Major $11 million Geelong West Oval upgrade officially opened


The major $11 million upgrade of Geelong West Ovalpavilion and precinct will be officially opened this weekend.

Home to the Geelong West Giants, Geelong West Cricket
Club and Geelong Cycling Club, the upgrade was jointly funded with the
Victorian Government ($7.4 million) and the City of Greater Geelong ($3.6
million).

The new two-storey multi-purpose pavilion meets AFL
Regional Facility Guidelines, with
home and away female friendly and umpire change rooms, as well as
all-accessible shower and toilet facilities.

The pavilion also houses
a commercial kitchen, kiosk and social rooms, a club gym, timekeepers and
coaches’ boxes.Upgrades throughout the precinct include a new
scoreboard, minor modifications to the heritage listed Flower Family Stand,
enhanced spectator seating, landscaping and additional car parking.

City of Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher attended
the opening event on Saturday 8 May alongside The Hon. John Eren, Member for
Lara and Christine Couzens MP, Member for Geelong.

West
Oval has incredible history and it’s a very important place for the local
community.

With
this redevelopment, its future as a premier local sporting venue is now secure,
and it’s also better set up for general community access and enjoyment.

The
Council was proud to partner with the Victorian Government to fund the $11
million project.

The new
pavilion is outstanding. It gives the tenant clubs an amazing home facility
that will help them grow participation, and also positions the venue as a
regional facility capable of hosting local football finals. Congratulations to
everyone involved.

Sport portfolio chair Councillor Ron Nelson said the upgrade
played an important role in increasing sporting opportunities and participation
in the region, particularly for women.

Not only are these facilities more accessible and appealing
for everyone to enjoy, they are also of a high calibre, suitable for elite
level sporting competition.

These upgrades are an integral part of plans to transform
Geelong West Oval into a regional-level facility – capable of hosting AFLW and
VFL games.

The transformation of Geelong West Oval aligns with the G21
Geelong Regional Alliance AFL Barwon Regional Strategy which identified Geelong
West Oval as a preferred location for hosting regional football finals, AFLW,
TAC Cup and VFL matches.

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Labor leader Rebecca White officially concedes defeat




White says it is clear that Australian voters favours the incumbent governments for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Kim Kardashian is officially a billionaire



Kim Kardashian is officially a billionaire. Forbes announced her inclusion on the World’s Billionaires list for the first time Tuesday, citing her two lucrative businesses, KKW Beauty and Skims, as well as cash from “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”

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City streets deserted as Brisbane officially enters lockdown


Greater Brisbane is now in lockdown for three days and masks are mandatory for the entire state after 10 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Queensland overnight.

The lockdown includes the council areas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Logan, Redlands and Ipswich but the state government on Monday afternoon confirmed the newly announced mask mandate will be in place in all areas across the state.

 

SCROLL DOWN FOR QLD HEALTH MASK MANDATE

It will mean every Queenslander will have to carry a mask with them when they leave the home and will have to wear them in indoor environments, such as shopping centres and workplaces.

The mandate is different from the one that was in place during the January lockdown, when mask wearing was only a requirement in the Greater Brisbane region.

Those who refuse a police direction to wear a mask can be given an on-the-spot fine of $200 by police, an infringement notice or a notice to appear in court.

The mask requirement will kick in from 5pm today, and comes as health officials grapple with a new COVID cluster – with four new community-acquired cases announced today. Another six cases were confirmed as being acquired in hotel quarantine.

The six hotel quarantine-acquired cases prompted the Premier to cut international arrivals.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a three-day lockdown for Greater Brisbane.

Masks will not need to be worn while driving in private motor vehicles and won’t be a requirement for children under the age of 12.

Health officials are recommending Queenslanders wear their mask while they are outside if they are unable to stay 1.5m away from people – such as on a busy footpath.

Mask wearing will be mandatory on public transport, taxis, rideshare vehicles, in places of worship, hospitality venues, libraries and indoor recreational facilities that remain open outside the Greater Brisbane region.

The four new locally acquired cases are part of the latest cluster of the highly contagious UK strain that re-emerged late last week.

One of the new cases had travelled to Gladstone from March 25 to 28, putting Central Queensland on alert.

One of the local cases is believed to be a nurse from the PA Hospital who had worked in the COVID ward. She has been on leave and had not received a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Greater Brisbane lockdown means schools will close, except to vulnerable children, or the children of essential workers.

Queensland Chief Health officer Dr Jeanette Young speaks during a press conference at Parliament House.
Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Queensland Chief Health officer Dr Jeanette Young speaks during a press conference at Parliament House.
Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

“There’s been more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community,” said Ms Palaszczuk who warned a large number of venues had been visited by the infected people.

“Our schools will close from tomorrow.

“It will enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives. But we’ve done this before.

“Let’s do it now and let’s do it right.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she was very worried.

“I didn’t sleep last night, I am very worried, very concerned,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said it was a tough decision with Easter and the school holidays on the horizon.

People can leave home for essential work, to look after a vulnerable person, for exercise and to buy food. They have been urged not to panic buy.

Jury trials will be suspended and defendants in magistrates court matters will not have to appear in person during this week’s lockdown.

Magistrates courts in Brisbane, Beenleigh, Cleveland, Holland Park, Ipswich, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Richlands, Sandgate, Wynnum, Caboolture will close their registries to the public from this afternoon.

During the three-day lockdown, physical appearances will not be required and all matters will be heard via telephone or video conference and all hearings will be adjourned.

The District and Supreme courts in Brisbane, Beenleigh and Ipswich will cease empanelling new juries and only one current active trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court will continue during lockdown.

Sentences in these courts will proceed by video link if prisons do not move into stage four lockdowns.

Masks must be worn at all times in court buildings, except for at the direction of a judge when a proceeding is under way.

Ms Palaszczuk confirmed Queensland’s latest cluster was the highly contagious UK variant and said the lockdown was the “right thing to do based on the health advice”.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the sister of the Princess Alexandra Hospital nurse had also acquired the infection.

“We now have significant community transmission,” she said.

“This is happening very, very quickly, it’s evolving.”

Queensland has 73 active cases of the COVID-19 virus.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital nurse working in a COVID-19 ward and her sister are among the four new cases.

They had recently travelled to Byron Bay in Northern NSW while unknowingly infectious with the virus.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is awaiting genomic sequencing results to be able to link them to a PA Hospital doctor who tested positive on March 12 to the highly contagious UK variant.

The doctor had assessed a COVID-19 case detected in quarantine at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

The two other new cases are linked to a Stafford landscaper, his brother and a friend from Strathpine, who have also tested positive as part of Queensland’s latest cluster. They are understood to be colleagues of one of the infected men.

Their cases have been connected to the PA doctor through genomic sequencing.

One of the four new cases had travelled to Gladstone in Central Queensland, where he spent the past three days.

Of Queensland’s 73 active cases, two are receiving intensive care.

It means the new Brisbane cluster has grown to seven people.

Dr Young said anyone who has been in the Greater Brisbane area since March 20 was urged to follow the lock down restrictions, even if they are outside the region.

Greater Brisbane residents can have up to two visitors to their home and can go out and exercise in a family group or if they’re solo, with one other person from a different family group.

Gathering numbers at homes will be slashed to 30 people in all areas of Queensland outside of Greater Brisbane.

Everyone outside of the Greater Brisbane area is being urged to wear a mask when they cannot socially distance.

There have been more than 11,000 tests in the 24 hours to this morning.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said mask wearing in the Greater Brisbane area would be mandatory, but has urged people not to confront people who are not wearing one, saying that should be left to the compliance officers.

“We want everyone to do their part. It is mandatory unless you have a health reason to not wear that mask,” she said.

Ms D’Ath said contract tracers were working hard to get information about where the latest cases may have visited while unknowingly infectious with the virus.

Ms Palaszczuk said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had accepted her request to halve the numbers of international arrivals into Queensland, based on the cluster.
She said lockdowns would continue to be a part of the Australian way of life until the population was vaccinated.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, like our last three-day lockdown, it gave our contract tracers the ability to get on top of everything,” she said.

The latest outbreak has increased the number of people getting tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in Queensland.

In the past 24 hours, Queensland pathology laboratories performed 11,626 tests for SARS-CoV-2, taking the total number since the pandemic began to more than 2.14 million.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath thanked people for continuing to come forward for testing.

“Can I just remind people again, no matter where you are in Queensland, or if you have been travelling in Queensland since Saturday, March 20, and you have been in Greater Brisbane, if you have any symptoms whatsoever, please get tested,” Mr D’Ath said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1456 cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been confirmed in Queensland, including 1140 that were acquired overseas.

The lockdown announcement, just days out from the Easter break, has come as a blow to business owners.

Gold Coast Tourism CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the lockdown was a ‘heartbreaking and devastating’ blow for local tourism operators and pleaded with interstate holidaymakers not to cancel their bookings.

Ms O’Callaghan said the Easter holidays were shaping as ‘critical’ for the industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and operators now feared another hit if the lockdown is extended.

“Obviously this is heartbreaking for our industry and a devastating time,” she said.

“But we’ve been down this path before and we’re putting our confidence behind the Queensland health system and their contact tracing.

“We’re hoping to get through this swiftly and that the lockdown will only last three days and travel restrictions will be lifted in time for Easter.

“We’re pleading with all of our visitors to keep their bookings at this stage.”

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said his region faced a ‘significant impact’ from the lockdown.

He said the Coast was enjoying more direct flights than it had pre-pandemic – thanks in part to the Federal Government’s recent half-price airfare deal – but the lockdown threatened to smash traveller confidence.

Mr Stoeckel said most of the North Coast’s visitors also came from the Brisbane region.

“The Brisbane lockdown will have a significant impact on the Sunshine Coast’s tourism industry, as its timing comes in the lead up to our peak Easter holiday period,” he said.

“Operators across the Sunshine Coast had secured strong bookings for this period, with the majority of bookings from the Greater Brisbane market.

“The announcement may also impact visitor confidence from interstate markets for the upcoming break as well.”

MASK CLARIFICATION FROM QUEENSLAND HEALTH: FOR ALL OF QUEENSLAND

Masks for Queensland (all of Queensland including Greater Brisbane)

You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.

You must wear a mask in indoor spaces, such as:

shopping centres, supermarkets, retail outlets and indoor markets

hospitals and aged care facilities

hospitality venues such as restaurants and cafés (not required for patrons while seated; customer facing staff only)

churches and places of worship

libraries

indoor recreational facilities and gyms (except if doing strenuous exercise*)

indoor workplaces (where safe to wear a mask and you can’t physically distance)

public transport, taxis and rideshare, including waiting areas and queues for this transport

airports and travelling on planes.

It is strongly recommended you wear a mask when outdoors if you are unable to stay more than 1.5m distance from other people, such as busy walkways and thoroughfares.

Masks do not need to be worn in some circumstances, including children under 12 years, where people have certain medical conditions, and in workplaces where it is not safe to do so.

You can remove your masks to consume food or drink.

*Strenuous exercise is exercise in or above the aerobic zone including high-intensity interval training, cycling, running.

GREATER BRISBANE LOCKDOWN

From 5pm 29 March 2021, people who have been in the greater Brisbane region since the 20 March 2021 will be subject to home confinement restrictions. The impacted Local Government Areas are:

City of Brisbane

City of Ipswich

Logan City

Moreton Bay Region

Redland City

Anyone who has been in these areas on or since 20 March must follow the restrictions listed below.

Originally published as WATCH LIVE: Premier, CHO to provide COVID update

 

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Melbourne’s Moomba Festival officially called off over coronavirus concerns


Melbourne’s slow road out of coronavirus restrictions has claimed another victim.

The iconic Moomba Festival has officially been cancelled for the first time in more than six decades.

Melbourne City Council had already announced the parade, the Birdman Rally and the water skiing tournament would not take place.

But it was intended that the event, due to start on March 5, would go ahead with limitations.

Those included a small festival along the Yarra River for around 14,000 people per day.

However, that plan has also been scrapped, considered too risky following the five-day snap lockdown.

This year will be the first time since 1955 that Melbourne hasn’t hosted the Moomba Festival.

It comes after the Anzac Day March was also called off, with other traditional commemorations to be scaled back.

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The Cameron Smith era at the Melbourne Storm is officially over


Cameron Smith has officially handed the captaincy torch over at Melbourne Storm and it’s going go take two men to fill the legendary skipper’s boots.

Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane have been confirmed as co-captains after serving as long-time deputies to Smith, who, despite not making any formal announcements, won’t play at the NRL premiers any more.

Smith had been outright captain of Storm since 2008 and was the game’s longest serving captain before moving to Queensland following last year’s Grand Final win, where he is still considering his future in the NRL.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy conceded it was “very unlikely” Smith, who has been linked to the Gold Coast Titans, would return to Melbourne, but while the door remains open, it’s unlikely the future immortal will step through it.

Finucane and Bromwich will officially lead out the team together for the first time in the NRL season opener against South Sydney at AAMI Park on Thursday, March 11.

Bromwich, 31, made his debut for Storm in 2010 and has played 248 matches, headlined by three grand final wins (2012, 2017, 2020).

He has previously captained Storm in Smith’s absence on six occasions and led New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations tournament and 2017 Anzac Test.

Finucane, 29, played his 200th NRL match in last season’s finals series and has lined up in 135 games for Melbourne since joining the club from Canterbury in 2015.

He has played in six grand finals for two premiership victories (2017 and 2020), made his State of Origin debut for New South Wales in 2019 and again featured in the 2020 Origin series at the end of last season.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Finucane and Bromwich had demonstrated their leadership qualities on and off the field for a number of seasons.

“Jesse and Dale were identified some time ago as possible future captains of our club,” he said.

“Through our leadership program, they have progressed and developed their leadership skills, especially in the last couple of years, and have had a great captain to learn from in Cameron Smith, who was a wonderful leader of our team for so many years.”

Bellay labelled Smith the “the best captain the game has seen in modern times”.

“With it now being very unlikely that Cameron will be part of Storm this year, now is the right time to promote Dale and Jesse to the joint captaincy role to take our club into the future,” he said.

Storm will have a six-man leadership group in 2020 including Cameron Munster, Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch.

Hooker Harry Grant, who is set to take over Smith’s on-field position after returning from a year on loan to the Wests Tigers, was also included in Storm’s emerging leaders group.

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Acer’s 2-in-1 air purifier, the Acerpure Cool, is now officially in Malaysia


  • 3-in-1 HEPA filter can remove fine particles, air impurities, dust and bacteria
  • Features simple operation, can automatically adjust operation depending on air quality

The Acerpure Cool was one of the surprise announcements during last October’s [email protected] global press conference. It is, after all, a 2-in-1 air circulator and purifier coming from the Taiwan-based PC maker. It is now officially available in Malaysia and retails for US$319.80 (RM1,299).

[RM1 = US$0.246]

“As we become more concerned about health and wellbeing, many people are also more conscious of the quality of the air that we breathe in,” said Johnson Seet, Acer Malaysia’s consumer business, product and marketing director

“Acer Malaysia brought in our first 2-in-1 Acerpure Cool that purifies and cools the air at the same time so that you and your loved ones can breathe cleaner air be it at home or in the office,” he said.

“The Acerpure Cool continuously senses, assesses and improves air quality through its smart inbuilt technology,” he claimed.

The Acerpure Cool touts the ability to purify and circulate air around a room. At its core is a 3-in-1 HEPA filter, which consists of a pre-filter, activated carbon filter and HEPA 13 main filter. These work to remove fine particles and impurities in the air, including pet hair and dander, dust, as well as 99.97% of 0.3μm suspended particles and bacteria. Acer claimed.

Acer noted that it also works to isolate harmful gases and removes odours. The Ag+ Silver Coated Filter used in the device, Acer noted, went through extensive third-party laboratory tests to certify its efficacy in eliminating bacteriai and effectiveness against the activity of the H1N1 virus. This is to ensure that the Acerpure Cool minimises users’ exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses.

The Acerpure Cool is developed with homes, schools and workplaces in mind, adopting a simple design language with an LED touch panel and child safety locks. Via a PM1.0 air quality sensor, the unit supports real-time indoor air quality monitoring. The reading is displayed via three LED indicator lights of green, yellow and red.

Operation is also simplified – the air purifier mode can automatically adjust its operation to ensure better purification when poor air quality is detected. Acerpure Cool also claimed to release negative ions to help remove harmful gases in the air such as formaldehydeiii, and captures solid particles such as dust (PM2.5).

Acerpure Cool will be available at select Acer official online stores and Acer concept stores.

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Qld hotel cluster officially over, as state braces for Victoria fallout



Queensland health authorities are yet to declare Victoria a COVID hotspot.

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Argentina officially legalises abortion as women in Chile protest for reproductive rights


Argentina has become one of just a handful of Latin American countries to allow elective abortion, as neighbouring Chile initiated its own debate on decriminalising a procedure denied to most women on the continent.

President Alberto Fernandez signed a law that allows abortion until 14 weeks of pregnancy that was passed by the Senate on 30 December.

“Today we have a better, more equal society,” said Mr Fernandez, speaking from an event at a museum in the capital Buenos Aires.

“This is a great step towards equal rights, giving women the possibility to decide.”

Mr Fernandez added that it was “the culmination of a long struggle” waged by those wanting an end to abortion being “a crime that obliges secrecy and exposure to the risks involved” in back street procedures.

The government estimates that since 1983 more than 3,000 women have died from up to more than half a million secret abortions carried out in the country of 44 million.

Congress passed the bill last month, backed by women’s rights proponents, despite strong opposition from Evangelical Christians and traditional Roman Catholics and disapproval voiced by Pope Francis.

As a result, Argentina becomes the largest of just four Latin American countries where women can choose to have an abortion, joining Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana. 

In Mexico, terminations are allowed only in the state of Oaxaca and in Mexico City.

The region has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws. In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, the procedure is banned, and women can be sent to jail even for having a miscarriage. 

In Argentina, terminations were allowed only if the pregnancy was the result of rape or endangered the woman’s life.

Between 2012 and 2020, more than 1,500 court cases were brought for abortions, according to the Centre for Legal and Social Studies.

The law “represents the state’s understanding what reproductive autonomy signifies to women,” Maria Teresa Bosio, the president of a group of Catholics in favour of the right to choose, told AFP.

The law allows for health care workers to express conscientious objection, but states that the abortion must be provided free of charge within 10 days of a request.

State guarantees

Mr Fernandez also promulgated a 1,000-day guarantee that women will receive state aid during pregnancy and for their child’s first three years.

“There will be a state behind (women) that will give them health care and guarantees so that their child can grow and develop,” said Mr Fernandez.

Chile also currently restricts abortion to cases of rape or when a woman’s life is endangered, along with unviability of the foetus. Until as recently as 2017, the country banned the procedure outright.

Women there took to the streets of Santiago on Wednesday to demand access to abortion as debate opened in Chile’s Congress on a bill seeking to allow elective abortion until 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Women hold up green handkerchiefs and shout slogans in front of La Moneda government palace during a pro-choice demonstration in Chile.

Getty Images South America

The protesters sported green neck scarves like the ones worn by their counterparts in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America rallying for women’s reproductive rights.

The women also performed “A Rapist in your Path,” a song that has become a global anthem against sexual violence.

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Brexit officially takes effect as the UK leaves EU single market


The UK has left the European Union’s single market and customs union, ending nearly half a century of often turbulent ties with its closest neighbours.

The United Kingdom’s tortuous departure from the European Union took full effect as Big Ben struck 11:00 pm in central London, just as most of the European mainland ushers in 2021 at midnight.

Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up gesture after signing the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it an “amazing moment”, which would make Britain “an open, generous, outward-looking, internationalist and free-trading” country.

“We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it,” he said in a New Year’s message to the nation.

Most people in Britain and in Europe are keen to draw a line under Brexit, which has dominated politics on both sides of the English Channel since the country’s narrow vote to leave in 2016.

The referendum on EU membership opened up deep political and social wounds which remain raw, with the consequences of Britain’s departure to be felt for generations to come – for better or worse.

The British pound surged to a 2.5-year peak against the US dollar before the long-awaited exit from the single market, 11 months since the country legally left the EU in January.

Britain has been in a standstill transition period since then, during fractious talks to secure a free-trade agreement with Brussels, which was only finally clinched on Christmas Eve.

‘Be our own bosses’

As of today, EU rules will no longer apply, and the free movement of more than 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states has ended.

Gibraltar, a British enclave off the coast of southern Spain, is the exception, after inking a last-minute deal with Madrid to avoid a hard border and major disruption.

Elsewhere though, customs border checks return for the first time in decades, and despite the free-trade deal, queues and disruption from additional paperwork are expected.

“It’s going to be better,” said resident Maureen Martin, from Dover on the southeastern coast of England, where most voted to leave the EU in 2016.

“We need to govern ourselves and be our own bosses.”

‘Our future is made in Europe’

Britain – a financial and diplomatic big-hitter plus a major NATO power – is the first member state to leave the EU, which was set up to forge unity across the continent after the horrors of World War II.

The EU has lost 66 million people and an economy worth $2.85 trillion, but Brexit, with its appeal to nationalist populism, also triggered fears other disgruntled members could follow suit.

“It’s been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, as she signed the trade pact.

In January, flag-waving Brexiteers led by populist anti-EU former lawmaker Nigel Farage cheered and pro-EU “remainers” mourned.

But no formal events are planned for the end of the transition.

Public gatherings are banned due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 73,500 lives and infected nearly 2.5 million people in Britain, including Mr Johnson himself.

Mr Johnson is looking not only to a future free of COVID-19, but also of rules set in Brussels, as he attempts to forge a global identity for Britain for the first time since it joined the then European Economic Community in 1973. 





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