Crown Melbourne set to transform hotel into Australian Open quarantine hub


It means players and their entourages will have to shuttle directly to and from the tennis centre from their hotels, without having contact with the public.

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TA, the DHHS and the Andrews government were locked in talks on Monday evening, although there is growing belief a resolution will be reached by close of business on Tuesday.

Sources in the talks have said that the original start date of January 18 had been all but dismissed. January 25 is still a possibility, but February 1 or even February 8 were looming as the most likely of start dates.

Nine – the Australian Open host broadcaster and owner of this masthead – was waiting to be told the revised date late on Monday evening.

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The hotel quarantine – with the ability to train – will be mandatory for all players and their support staff.

While the option of players renting private properties with gyms and training facilities had been raised in conversations, a source in the negotiations said the DHHS would not allow it.

The ATP notified players late last week that the quarantine period was likely to begin on January 8 but has also advised them not to book any travel yet.

“There are strict current limitations on the number of people allowed entry into Australia. A possible [one] or two week push-back of the Australian Open is still likely,” the note said.

“Final determination on COVID-19 protocols, close contract procedures and player support teams will be released soon.”

Players are eagerly awaiting advice from Tennis Australia, with any likely delay of the tournament to have a flow-on effect for the remainder of the season.

Premier Daniel Andrews revealed on Monday that no private security guards will be involved in the state’s new-look hotel quarantine program.

International travellers will begin arriving at Melbourne Airport next Monday, the first time that any international flights – apart from New Zealand – have arrived since July.

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Disease-busting hub could fuel economic rebound


The coronavirus crisis cost Victoria an estimated 200,000 jobs, contributed to a state budget deficit of $23.3 billion in the last financial year and will send the government’s net debt to almost $155 billion in the next three years as the state borrows to stimulate the economy.

Managing director of Bristol Myers Squibb in Australia and New Zealand Neil MacGregor.

But Mr MacGregor, who oversees 300 staff working in Melbourne and Sydney, said the building blocks in Victoria and across the country were strong.

“Manufacturing is quite hard, complex, with large [capital expenditure] and would require time to set up,” he said. “If we’re talking speed and the ability to grow, with clinical trials we have the capability and infrastructure already set up in Australia, so it’s just a matter of leveraging an asset.”

Melbourne already hosts world-renowned centres such as the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and companies with household names, such as CSL, Pfizer, GSK and Bristol Myers Squibb.

Significant investments have been made in recent weeks to boost the state’s drug manufacturing and research capabilities further.

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Biotechnology giant CSL committed this month to building an $800 million influenza vaccine plant at Tullamarine after securing $1 billion from the federal government in a 10-year supply deal.

The Andrews government unveiled the $2 billion “Breakthrough Victoria” fund in its state budget last week, aiming to drive investment in sectors including healthcare, life sciences and agribusiness. Funding was also earmarked for a new Australian Institute for Infectious Disease in the Parkville biomedical precinct.

Jaala Pulford, Victoria’s Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, said the government was determined to improve the state’s standing as a top global medical research hub.

“Our goal is for us [in Melbourne] to retain our standing in the top three or so medical research communities in the world, and then take it to a next level,” Ms Pulford said

She said the government’s fund, which is projected to create 15,700 jobs across a range of industries, would help keep Victoria front of the pack for research and innovation.

“We have this extraordinary world-class expertise … the whole community has an interest in this.”

More than $1 billion a year is invested in Australian clinical trials, with billions more on the table for export and commercialisation. According to global research firm Startup Genome, life sciences companies based in Melbourne generated $16 billion in economic activity in 2019-20.

Dr Dan Grant, the boss of MTP Connect, a federal government backed group set up in 2015 to help accelerate medical technology growth, said there were “huge opportunities” on the table in Victoria and across the country.

It is estimated clinical trials and research employ as many as 70,000 Australians, Dr Grant said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits a CSL lab in Melbourne this month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits a CSL lab in Melbourne this month. Credit:Getty Images

“There are huge opportunities, and as our government moves towards our national manufacturing strategy, it’s not just about production. It’s about the pre-production and post-production [of treatments].”

Dr Grant said policymakers should view the sector, “just like you could view foreign fee-paying students”, as a key services export.

“There are strong economic reasons to continue to build this. And we have been working very hard to promote Australia for clinical trials.”

He said doubling down on research and trials investments would also have a big pay-off for local patients.

“Things like clinical trials are not just about economics and jobs. They’re about making sure patients are getting access to advanced treatments, and that clinicians are being exposed to them.”

Bristol Myers Squibb does not manufacture products in Australia, but managing director Mr MacGregor said it did have a strong research pipeline here. The company is currently running 74 clinical trials, and invests about $24 million a year in research.

Industry experts in biotechnology have been championing the use of Australia’s already strong research sector to score economic wins as the world seeks to recover from the pandemic.

Professor Trent Munro is hoping for a national approach to enhancing research hubs and manufacturing.

Professor Trent Munro is hoping for a national approach to enhancing research hubs and manufacturing.Credit:University of Queensland

University of Queensland professor Trent Munro, one of the team leading Australia’s quest for a coronavirus vaccine, said there was an opportunity to “enhance and mature” the country’s research hubs and manufacturing capabilities. He said he would prefer a national approach rather than state-by-state plans to achieve this.

“While the full-time equivalent [job] counts in these types of initiatives are small compared to construction or mining, the quality of the jobs is very high, as is the peripheral growth in supporting industries, so it’s really an umbrella opportunity,” he said.

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Youth Hub out, Empowered Futures in


By KIERAN FINNANE

The Town Council is changing the focus of its plans for young people. The much-spoken of Youth Hub concept has been dumped in favour of a Town Council Youth Space. This does not seem to be, however, a drop-in centre.

Instead it will house council’s “Youth Programs team” and be the base for delivering its activities such as a Youth Employment Apprenticeship Program, the Phoney Festival, the YAG (Youth Action Group under a new format) and the “YEP”.

These details are included in a report to council by Director of Community Development Kim Sutton (pictured below) and apparently reflect the discussions by councillors and officers in the forum of November 9.

The “YEP” stands for Youth Empowerment Program about which Ms Sutton’s report contains no detail. Its name would suggest that this is the program associated with a Baha’i entity, which has caused Council CEO Robert Jennings, being also associated with the Baha’i community, to declare a conflict of interest in the matter.

In response to enquiries by the Alice Springs News in September this was how the program was described:

“The youth program was suggested by elders and community groups, as a proven program with strong community support.  It offers a world-renowned program that has been implemented both internationally and in Central Australia.

“With a fundamental purpose on [sic] empowering young people to improve, this program has many demonstrated benefits and is a fresh approach to the traditional youth programming run by Council.” [Emphasis added.]

Requests for further information have been turned down.

“Empowering”, “empowered” , the vocabulary suggests that the YEP’s principles will be pervasive of council’s whole approach, and yet the public continues to be kept in the dark, beyond this vague statement, about the program’s framework and credentials. 

The colourful policy document, including images pictured above, accompanying Ms Sutton’s report suggests that the YEP Pilot has been “completed”, incoherently adding in brackets “Covid-19 delays, TBA).

It is not clear whether a “Youth Council Camp”, also referred to as a “school holiday bootcamp”, is part of the YEP. The first such camp is planned for September 2021 school holidays.

The first intake for the Youth Employment Apprenticeship program will not be until January 2023.

Council is being asked to commit considerable resources to the plans, including the employment of a youth programs manager, to start in February next year, and two new youth programs officers, to start in June.

It plans to have the youth space “scoped” by June 2021 and opened by September, although this will depend on the location of a suitable space. The report talks about the former Tourism Central Australia building, the south-eastern corner of Traeger Park, the old Pool House building or a brand new facility as possibilities, estimated to cost between $500,000 and $2,500,000.

In the more immediate term, Ms Sutton recommends that council enter into an MOU with the Arrernte Community Boxing Academy and find them a suitable council-owned base in time for the summer holidays. The academy was formerly housed in the boxing shed at Traeger Park until it was condemned.

Ms Sutton also recommends that council approve an additional $75,000 from capital infrastructure reserves for the delivery of expanded youth programs and materials, and that council facilities be made available to local youth agencies and organisations, via the lnteragency Tasking and Co-Ordination Group.

Council’s existing (and by all reports successful) summer holiday programs will be delivered again, with some new features such as “Arrow Tag” on the grass fields at the Town Pool.

The various recommendations contained in the report will come before council in tomorrow night’s meeting. More then.

Meanwhile, Ms Sutton’s document says council supports the announcement of “a 24-hour Youth Hub” at 2 Railway Terrace, opened as a pilot project until March 2021 by the Territory Government. The Railway Terrace premises are the home for its Youth Outreach and Re-Engagement Teams (YORET).

According to Ms Sutton’s report, the facility will be open from 3pm Friday to 6pm Sunday, before running 24/7 during the summer school holidays: “This space provides fun activities after school and in the evening such as games and sports and quieter (less enticing) activities during school hours and overnight.

“They will coordinate with the Tangentyere night time buses (2:15am last departure). No accommodation is offered at this facility and those needing [sleeping] accommodation will be supported to be referred elsewhere.”



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


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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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Mitchell Starc issues warning on challenges of hub life


The likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins could have as little as just a few weeks at home between now and June should they choose to pad up again at next year’s IPL.

The trio are due to return to Australia on Thursday for two weeks of quarantine before joining the international men’s hub for the one-day international, T20 and Test series against India, which doesn’t finish until January 19.

Mitchell Starc will return to the BBL with Sydney Sixers in January.

The calendar for the first half of 2021 is tight, with a Test tour of South Africa due to leave days after the BBL final on February 6, leaving little if any time off before next year’s IPL – tentatively scheduled for late March through to May.

Australia’s Test stars are yet to learn the extent of the biosecurity protocols that will be in place for the Border-Gavaskar series, with fears players will have to endure another repeat of their claustrophobic UK hub when their accommodation was at the cricket ground.

“When you’re stuck in situations like that, month after month, going from bubble to bubble, and if those restrictions remain the same or quite similar, it can be quite tiresome on the mind and body as well,” said Starc, who is playing for NSW in the Shield after turning his back on an IPL windfall to freshen up in the off-season.

“Certainly for myself to get that round of golf or walk around is a mental break from a day’s play or a game. That’s important for people’s wellbeing.

“Then you throw in the extra hurdle with guys with families and kids going hub to hub, and bubble to bubble, you throw in some restrictions in terms of quarantine and then it makes it quite difficult.”

Starc said he was unclear about the toughness of hub restrictions for the Test series against India.

“There’s not been too much communication just yet. Things are starting to come through on what those six white-ball games will look like between Sydney and Canberra,” he said.

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“I couldn’t tell you what the hub or bubble will look like in the Test summer, whether that’s going to be quite strict, if it creates angst among families. There is a lot of questions to be asked and answered.”

In developing protocols, CA has been working with infectious diseases expert Dr Cassy Workman, who also advised the National Rugby League on its biosecurity plan, and interim chief executive Nick Hockley said “we’ve been thinking about how we can give the players a bit more freedom”.

“We’ve got a tiered approach, depending on what the conditions are,” Hockley said. “If we’re in a jurisdiction where there has been no community transmission for a long time then we can open things up.

“There are freedoms. They can go out and get a cup of coffee, assuming that we get to that kind of risk level. But we’ll analyse it at the time. There are very clear protocols depending on what the environment is.”

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New Roo on exile from Giants hub


North Melbourne recruit Aidan Corr says he was surprised to be sent home from the Giants’ Queensland hub in September, after signalling his intent to move clubs.

“I wanted to come out on the front foot and just let the club know. They wanted an answer, I told them and I got a shock (when I was) sent home,” Corr told AFL Trade Radio.

“I was (disappointed), honestly. I thought I could stay up on the Gold Coast in the sun, not go to team meetings, and just hang around with the boys.

“Looking back now, I was naive thinking that.

“It was probably the right thing for the club to do, to create more stability around the place without me floating around.”

The key defender is set to be followed out the door by a handful of Giants, established and otherwise.

Defender Zac Williams sealed a move to Carlton on Friday, and negotiations for forward Jeremy Cameron’s move to Geelong are underway.

Second year midfielders Jye Caldwell and Jackson Hately have also requested trades to Essendon and Adelaide respectively, while third year forward Zac Langdon has asked for a move to West Coast.

Corr doesn’t believe the list turnover means the 2019 Grand Finalists are out of contention.

“It’s hard to speak on behalf of the others, but I don’t think it’s a premiership window thing. I think it truly is just timing. It is for me,” he said.

“They should be a top four side, they’ve still got so many guns there.”

Hawthorn expressed an interest in Corr throughout the year, but the 26-year-old says he was comfortable with his initial call.

“When the stuff with Rhyce did come about there was a push,” Corr admitted.

“(The Hawks are) a great side and have been for a very long time. Clarko wanting you to come and play for him is very flattering, but I’d made up my mind and I gave North my word.”







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Adaptable childcare hub designed for 100-year cycle


Fronting Phyllis Street, the Bayswater Early Years Hub replaces a number of smaller, and less well-endowed, centres dotted through the municipality.

The award-winning hub is orientated to the north to maximise sunlight.Credit:Peter Bennetts

“I think it was originally built as a house in the late 1950s/early 1960s and morphed into a childcare centre,” says Uahwatanasakul,” who also points out the under-utilisation of the site.

“There was a large front yard that wasn’t used and the back of the place was concreted over for car parking.”

K20 Architecture’s design takes a backflip on this arrangement, providing car parking spaces on the periphery.

What was previously endless concrete for cars is now a large play area for the approximately 200 children up to the age of five.

An internal courtyard joining the front pavilion, and the U-shaped children’s learning spaces not only allow for natural light to permeate, but as importantly for the functions to be delineated: including maternal child health consulting rooms, rooms for parents to meet and early child facilities.

“The idea was that this place would have a 100-year cycle, capable of being adapted for other uses as the needs of the community change,” says Kerlidis, who was keen to ensure many of the open-plan spaces remained as flexible as possible, resulting in column-free areas.

Although this is a large hub, K20 Architecture broke down the scale of the buildings.

The front pavilion constructed in recycled brick, for example, has a timber-lined portico set into a coloured glass window.

“It’s important to create that sense of magic, as well as intimacy for smaller children who may be hesitant to come here the first time,” says Uahwatanasakul, pointing out the orange and red glass reflected on the floor of the main lobby/arrival point.

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The form of the buildings, with their brick walls and pitched steel roofs covered in solar panels, also creates a sense of domesticity while capturing the predominantly residential environment.

Having many of the spaces one room wide also allows for cross-ventilation and importantly, passive surveillance of the children whether they are indoors or outside (the landscape is by Hanson Partnership).

Generous skylights and celestial windows also create light filled spaces.

And to the west, deep steel-framed portals frame the windows to reduce the afternoon glare.

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Unlike childcare centres of the past, Sunflower was conceived for use by the broader community, whether that’s for parent meetings, wider training opportunities for the community or individual rooms that can be booked out via the council.

“This strengthens community links and relationships, while offering added facilities the community requires,” says Kerlidis, who sees its use after the children have left and on weekends.

While the use of this facility has now been considerably broadened, the selection of materials and techniques has become more focused to achieve the sustainability award it received: recycled bricks (from a nearby factory that was demolished), generating power off the grid and using magnesium oxide board panels that offer a cement-free solution and are capable of decomposing rather than adding to landfill.

“Our objective was to create a 100-year lifespan for this hub.

That means not only thinking carefully about each material, but also the spaces and their adaptive re-use at some point in time,” says Kerlidis.

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See bushfires through a different lens at Culture Hub


A temporary, inner-city ‘Culture Hub’ that aims to become a vibrant focal point for art, community and culture has been launched in Coffs Central.

A partnership between Coffs Central and Coffs Harbour City Council’s Library, Museum and Gallery section, the Culture Hub will bring a fascinating range of arts and cultural activities into the heart of the city.

“The pop-up exhibitions and events that Coffs Central has previously hosted on Level One have proved to be hugely popular – and the new Hub is going to offer even more cultural happenings for people of all ages to enjoy,” Coffs Harbour Mayor, Denise Knight said.

“Being able to pop in and soak up an amazing cultural experience while you’re out and about makes it so much more accessible for so many more people. It’s going to be a fantastic attraction for both the arts and local businesses.”

Culture Hub will be a place to share local stories with the first exhibition – Creative Recovery Projects: The Bushfires – opening today (October 27) and running until November 14.

“It is an exhibition of works by students from Coramba Primary, Nana Glen Primary and Ulong Public Schools in the Orara Valley and showcases their artistic responses to the terrible bushfires of 2019 that they went through,” Programs Coordinator Ashleigh Frost said.

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“The works are the result of an outreach program – the Creative Recovery Project – spearheaded by Council’s Regional Gallery and Museum as part of our ongoing bushfire recovery initiatives.”

Gia Crowhurst from Coffs Central with Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor Denise Knight at the launch of the Culture Hub on Tuesday.

It involved creative workshops and activities for students with Gumbaynggirr Elder Uncle Mark Flanders and Art Therapist Emma Gentle to help them work through their experiences of the November bushfires.

“Each school became a vital way for children and families to connect with each other and maintain familiar routines after such a terrifying time. So we worked with the children in their school communities to help them reflect, process and recover – and the artworks clearly reveal how raw and vivid an experience it was. They’re also fascinating because they show a very different view of what’s important to a child during a time like that, as opposed to an adult.”

More to come

A total of six exhibitions are planned for the Culture Hub until July 2021 – including works from Australia’s most prestigious and infamous portrait competition, the Archibald Prize.

That exhibition will run from January 22 to March 6, 2021, and will be shown in both the Hub and the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.

Culture Hub extends the city’s existing cultural facilities so that national exhibitions like the Archibald can be seen in Coffs Harbour. It provides locals and visitors alike with a taste of what will be possible with the new Cultural and Civic Space – a modern, safe and central place to learn, hangout and be inspired.





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