Cane toad discovered in southern Riverina prompts community alert | The Border Mail


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A cane toad has been discovered in the southern Riverina, sparking an alert as biosecurity authorities investigate how it ended up in the region. The deceased female toad at Jindera was reported to and confirmed by the NSW Department of Industries invasive species biosecurity unit late on Monday. It is still unknown how the toad made it to the region, and whether its arrival could spawn more of the pests. IN OTHER NEWS: “The nature of the toad’s death meant that a post-mortem was unable to be performed to confirm whether it was either carrying or had just laid eggs,” NSW DPI said in a statement. The community is urged to be on the lookout for more suspected cane toads, and advised not to kill an amphibian unless it has been positively identified to be a cane toad as it could be a native frog. Murray Local Land Services (LLS) biosecurity and emergency services manager Geoff Corboy said it’s likely the cane toad hitched a ride on a southbound truck. “The most likely explanation is that it was a stowaway on a truck delivering materials from north-east NSW or Queensland,” he said. “If you’re coming from cane toad infested areas such as Queensland or the Northern Territory, please check your luggage, vehicle or trailer to ensure you are not unwittingly carrying an unwanted passenger.” Suspected cane toads should be reported immediately to the DPI Biosecurity by calling the helpline on 1800 680 244, completing the online form or emailing a photo of the amphibian’s face and details to invasive.species@dpi.nsw.gov.au If you think you have seen a cane toad, the DPI advises if you catch it to report it, be careful. Wear protective clothing before touching it, watch out for poisin and keep it in a well-ventilated container with a little water in a cool location while the organisation determines the species. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Hurst Street, Goulburn proposal prompts council call for information | Goulburn Post


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A consultant for a controversial housing development in a heritage area says the council is suggesting alternatives be considered. A report on a development application to demolish an 1890 house at 22 Hurst Street is due to go to a March 2 council meeting. The owners want to replace the structure, known as Banksia, with a two-storey house containing seven bedrooms, six bathrooms and excavate a basement area for four vehicles. Neighbours in the heritage conservation area have rallied against the plan and lodged 36 submissions on the DA. They say the eight-metre high home will tower over others, impacting the area’s “unique” heritage character and creating over-shadowing. READ MORE: Goulburn’s Hurst Street heritage ‘under threat’ from proposal Hurst Street, Goulburn house plan prompts public submission Hurst Street, Goulburn, proposed house draws public submissions Others have pointed to the house’s history as the first ‘cottage’ in the street and Arthur and Annie Sach’s association. The former headed up the Goulburn Technical College for 30 years while his wife started the city’s suffragette movement. Environment and planning director Scott Martin said the council was awaiting further heritage information on the DA. “We’ve had discussions with the applicant, noting he is a third party in the process, and highlighted our concerns around heritage. We think it hasn’t necessarily been addressed to the fullest extent,” he said. “We haven’t received (this) and we don’t have much time before we need to get the ball rolling and bring a report to the council. That will hopefully force it one way or another.” A spokesman confirmed this would go to the March 2 meeting. However, Andrew Randall of Randall Dutaillis Architects said he’d received all of the public submissions for a response and further council correspondence. ALSO READ: Old Fireside favourite looks for a warm and loving owner “The impression we got was that planning staff were not prepared to support the development and that (the owner) should consider options along the lines of preservation,” he said. Mr Randall said he hadn’t received any firm direction from the owner at this stage. His firm did not design the proposed two-storey replacement but simply prepared the DA. The owner, who did not wish to be named, declined to comment and referred enquiries to Mr Randall. A council spokesman insisted planners were following “due process” regarding requests for additional information and in communication with the applicant. “As staff though we have a lot of unanswered questions on heritage values,” he said. In recent days, a landscape designer has been onsite. Mr Martin said if not for the heritage aspects, and possibly overshadowing, the DA would be relatively straightforward. He told The Post that while some people had questioned why the council simply didn’t pursue a heritage order on the home, it already had a level of protection as part of the Conservation Area. This was unlike Wingello Park, near Marulan, on which the council applied for an an Interim Heritage Order in early 2020 when a DA for alterations was lodged. However, if this had been lodged as a complying development through a private certifier, the result could have been different. “So the heritage conservation area is almost as good as the property itself being (heritage) listed,” Mr Martin said. At the recent council meeting, Mayor Bob Kirk said historical groups had made representations to him on the need for infill guidelines in heritage areas. ALSO READ: Prison officers ‘sick and tired of being the punching bag’ at Goulburn Correctional Centre He asked Mr Martin whether these could be developed. The planning director told The Post that the development control plan was the best mechanism. “They are covered in the DCP but there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “One thing we have off the back of the Housing Strategy is some actions moving forward to help us facilitate infill guidelines in heritage areas and free up the constraints recently in place,” he said. “Our hope is to report back to the council in the next few months what that will look like, particularly in the CBD and heritage conservation area. “(It will mean) we can get some additional density and restoration and encourage sympathetic development in and around the heritage area. We see the DCP as the area where we can do the heavy lifting.” We care about what you think. Have your say in the form below and if you love local news don’t forget to subscribe.

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Richardson Primary School’s lead paint discovery prompts calls for audit, but Education Minister says affected schools are already known


Lead paint has been discovered in a fourth Canberra school in less than a year, but the ACT’s Education Minister says a system-wide review of hazardous materials in schools is already underway.

Unsafe levels of lead in a heating system were found at Richardson Primary School, in the ACT’s south, over the school holidays.

The discoveries were made in the boiler room and the heating ducts during routine maintenance work, principal Anna Wilson wrote in a letter to parents yesterday.

“The areas connected to this particular heating system are the hall, the library and [two] classrooms … licensed assessors have conducted tests to check if lead dust has flowed from the heating system to other areas of the school,” Ms Wilson wrote.

She confirmed to parents the assessors had deemed the spaces safe to occupy, and that affected areas had been cleaned by specialists.

The heating system has also been sealed until the ducts have been cleaned.

Opposition education spokesman Jeremy Hanson said the lead paint discoveries at Richardson demanded further inquiry.

“This is now the fourth ACT school to be affected by toxic material … this is seemingly a problem that is across a lot of our older schools,” Mr Hanson said.

“We’ve had assurances from the Minister previously, but these issues keep cropping up.”

Principal Anna Wilson wrote to parents as students began their first day of school that lead contamination was found over the holidays.(Supplied)

Lead specialist urges ‘sensible’ response

Mr Hanson said he believed the discovery was a “major concern” to student and staff health.

But lead specialist and environmental scientist Professor Mark Taylor said elevated levels of lead were commonly found near older buildings, and urged a “sensible” response to the Richardson discovery.

“It appears to me from the information I have seen that there is a lead hazard, as there would be in many people’s homes … it only becomes a risk when somebody ingests the lead paint or lead dust,” Professor Taylor said on ABC Radio Canberra this morning.

“So for the children and for the mums and dads who are going to that school, there is a very limited risk.

“There is a very limited risk here … it is not a panic situation by any stretch.”

Minister says review already underway

Education Minister Yvette Berry said the directorate already knows which schools are affected by lead paint.

Ms Berry said an expert panel was formed in December to guide asbestos and lead paint removal, using $15 million committed at the ACT election to the issue.

“We already know where they are. The majority of our schools, any schools built before 1992 … will have some sort of hazardous material, and all of them have hazardous material plans,” Ms Berry said.

“We take the advice of experts when it comes to things like managing lead paint and asbestos.”

A woman with long hair.
ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said a review into lead paint removal was already underway.(ABC News)

Ms Berry said in the last two months the directorate had reviewed every hazardous material register in every school and assessed the condition of lead paint in all schools known to have it.

She said a plan to “systematically” address hazardous materials across the school network has been developed.

According to the Education Directorate, about two-thirds of ACT schools were built before 1992, when lead paint was commonly used.

Deputy director-general of the ACT Education Directorate David Matthews said he was “very confident” all affected schools had been identified, and that safety would be a top priority going forward.

“We have a very conservative threshold about any hazardous materials so we act before there is a problem and we act preventatively,” he said.

“We are working in our schools all the time and we’re looking for opportunities to address hazardous materials when we do major upgrades but we are also managing them in accordance with expert advice.”

In August last year, students at Yarralumla Primary School were forced to study in hallways for weeks as classrooms were cleaned of lead paint.

North Ainslie Primary School and Alfred Deakin High School also both found lead paint contamination on school grounds late last year.

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Lake Torrens drilling approval by SA Premier prompts Greens calls to change heritage laws


A contentious minerals exploration project in outback South Australia, approved by the Premier, is prompting calls for a change to heritage laws.

Premier Steven Marshall, who is also the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, approved an application by exploration company Kelaray to explore for ore bodies on the surface of Lake Torrens.

The salt lake, part of a national park, is considered sacred by at least four Aboriginal nations but does not have any native title protections.

Kelaray, a subsidiary of Argonaut Resources, made the application under Section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which allows the minister to approve the damage or disturbance of sacred sites.

An email obtained by the ABC revealed almost every Aboriginal person consulted on the project opposed it, but Mr Marshall chose to prioritise the project’s potential economic benefits.

The State Government says the drilling will not cause permanent damage.(Supplied: Rebecca Tayler)

The approval has prompted calls from the SA Greens to change the act to give Aboriginal people a greater voice.

“If we’re really going to get serious about reconciliation in this state, I think that act needs to be revisited and done properly this time,” Greens MP Tammy Franks said.

“Not rammed through Parliament in a couple of days, but properly considered and Aboriginal voices heard.

“The review should really listen to Aboriginal people this time.

Government defends decision

Mr Marshall was not available for an interview, but a Government spokesperson defended the Premier’s decision.

“This follows extensive consultation with Aboriginal organisations and people claiming an interest in Lake Torrens,” the spokesperson said.

“The authorisation requires Argonaut to undertake its exploration in accordance with conditions to minimise impacts of the program and to keep interested Aboriginal parties informed on a regular basis of the progress of the company’s work.”

The spokesperson said Mr Marshall also took into account:

  • a history of mineral exploration activity on Lake Torrens and close to its shoreline, with government records indicating the first exploration hole was drilled in 1960
  • the granting of 282 exploration licences over areas of Lake Torrens since the early 1970s
  • Section 23 authorisations approved in 2010 and 2018 by the former government to permit exploration on and in the vicinity of Lake Torrens
  • a separate Section 23 authorisation would have to be sought by Kelaray if exploration led to any proposal to mine at Lake Torrens
A aerial shot of a large salt pan. There is a plane wing in the shot.
The SA Greens want changes to the state Aboriginal Heritage Act.(Supplied: Tony Magor/Department of Environment and Water)

Project on scale ‘never seen before’

SA Labor’s Aboriginal affairs spokesperson, Kyam Maher, defended the 2010 and 2018 approvals that were made when his party was in government.

Mr Maher said those projects were on a smaller scale.

“Very widescale drilling over a very large area and people are concerned that firstly, it is happening, and also what sort of conditions are on there to make sure it’s done sensibly?”

He said heritage concerns and minerals projects needed to be given equal weight.

“Once Aboriginal heritage is destroyed or damaged on such a large scale, you can’t reverse that,” Mr Maher said.

“I think people are more alive to some of the concerns that Aboriginal people and traditional owners have.”

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Northern Australia’s decade-long syphilis outbreak prompts calls for a national response


Australia’s peak medical body is calling for a coordinated national response to bring an end to a syphilis outbreak that has spread through the country for 10 years.

The sexually transmitted infection is easily treatable but has been moving through parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia since January 2011.

It has primarily affected young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Australia.

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed since the outbreak began, according to federal Department of Health data.

“It was fairly clear that there was a very ineffective response to this very significant disease epidemic across four states,” the Australian Medical Association’s NT president, Dr Robert Parker, said.

“And there was a total lack of coordination from the various states and territories in dealing with it,”

Australia does not currently have a national CDC, but the AMA has been calling on the Federal Government to establish one since 2017.

In a statement, a spokeswoman from the federal Department of Health said a body called the National Framework for Communicable Disease Control, endorsed by the COAG Health Council in 2014, was considered a better option than a national CDC.

Dr Robert Parker has been calling for a national CDC to tackle the issue since 2017.(ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)

Simple to treat, difficult to control

Syphilis can be diagnosed with a blood test and treated with a course of penicillin.

But Dr Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at the Darwin-based Indigenous health service Danila Dilba, said the infection can have catastrophic consequences if it isn’t dealt with early.

“It’s a really challenging disease to get on top of because people aren’t necessarily knowing they have the disease until they come to a clinic, get a blood test, and then are identified so we can treat it,” Dr Webster said.

“If left untreated, it can cause tertiary syphilis which can create something that sort of looks like dementia, I guess, in layperson’s terms.”

Syphilis can also be transmitted from pregnant women to their children, with the departmental data confirming at least 10 congenital cases and three deaths across Australia since 2011.

“If this epidemic had occurred on the Queensland-New South Wales border … there would have been a lot of federal interest and intervention.

“Because it’s Aboriginal kids in remote places, the Federal Government really doesn’t seem to care.”

Fears of funding cliff

In 2017, a group of state and federal government health officials developed a strategic approach to deal with the outbreak, which was endorsed by a ministerial advisory council alongside an action plan.

$21.2 million in federal funding was given to Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to fund extra staff and point-of-care testing until 2021.

John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, says the funding is due to expire next month.

He’s questioned what that will mean for screening and education programs in remote areas, which he says already need more resourcing.

“It’s not enough,” he said.

AMSANT chief executive officer John Paterson in Darwin.
John Paterson, AMSANT CEO, says health organisations need more funding to tackle the issue.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

Dr Webster credited the Federal Government for its efforts so far in bringing the outbreak under control, and hoped funding and good relationships with Indigenous health organisations would continue.

The department spokeswoman said the government’s response would be reviewed this year before any further commitments were made.

She said a syphilis medication was also added to the Emergency Drug Supply Schedule in September 2019, and that was intended to treat the infection for Aboriginal populations in non-remote areas in a timely manner.

Indigenous medical groups hope the positive relationships they’ve built with governments during the COVID-19 pandemic response will help streamline the response to other major health issues in the future.

“It’s allowed us to have our input and have a say and ensure that Aboriginal voices are being heard,” Mr Paterson said.

“A very similar model is what we should be striving for to deal with STIs as well.”

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Fruit fly outbreak in South Australia prompts biosecurity experts to outline dos and don’ts


Two Queensland fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia’s Riverland region in the past two weeks have caused serious problems for the region’s fruit producers, who are working in a frenzy to adhere to new quarantine restrictions.

But it’s also left the wider community and travellers visiting during the region’s peak tourist season questioning what the rules are when living within or passing through a fruit fly suspension zone.

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) has declared two separate 1.5km outbreak areas: one around Monash and Glossop, and another encompassing Renmark West, Renmark South, Renmark and Crescent.

Meanwhile, a further 15km suspension zone has also been established around both surrounding areas where a number of quarantine restrictions will apply until at least March 15.

An outbreak zone has been declared around where the larvae were found at Monash and Renmark West, and a larger suspension zone has been created around both sites.(Supplied: Department Of Primary Industries And Regions)

Can I move fruit within the suspension zone?

Biosecurity SA plant health operations group manager Nick Secomb said the current legal requirements meant people could not move fruit outside the suspension area boundary unless it had been treated.

“There’s some freedom to allow movement within and around that 15-kilometre suspension zone … but if there’s no need to do it, we’d rather you didn’t,” he said.

Fruit within the 1.5km outbreak area must not be moved around at all.

Mr Secomb said PIRSA was asking people from outside the region, particularly Adelaide, to not bring fruit into the Riverland at all.

But he said rules allowed fruit to be brought into the region if a receipt of purchase was present to prove it was bought outside a fruit fly zone.

How are the roadblocks being implemented?

PIRSA runs permanent quarantine stations at Yamba, between Renmark and Mildura, and in the neighbouring Mallee region between Pinnaroo and Murrayville.

Mr Secomb said the two Riverland suspension area boundaries were currently being bolstered by random roadblocks, which may occur anywhere at any time.

“We don’t publicise [their movements], because they’re a random crew and we don’t want people to be able to predict when and where they’re going to be enforcing control,” he said.

Fruit flies on a petri dish
PIRSA has set up random roadblocks across South Australia to try to stop the spread of fruit that could be containing fruit fly.(ABC News)

“Rather than [introduce] more, we might look at where we’re applying them.

“We might need to do more work to support the Riverland outbreaks than in other parts of the state where we would’ve been scheduling other random roadblocks.”

Meanwhile, there were a number of fruit disposal bins permanently set up around the Riverland, which were being checked weekly.

“You can only see a little yellow bin above the ground, but they’re actually a really big underground pit that takes several months to fill,” Mr Secomb said.

How is PIRSA responding to the outbreaks?

The state’s biosecurity team said it was still trying to work out how the fruit fly larvae got into the Riverland.

“We’ve had a number of people ringing the hotline over the Christmas break. I don’t know of anyone who has rung and who hasn’t been called back within an hour of reporting [a potential finding].

“We’re obviously at a point where we’re trying to deal with a whole lot of growers very quickly and that’s putting pressure on everyone.”

Mr Secomb said he was confident PIRSA and Biosecurity SA had the tools to eradicate the pest, as has been done in the past.

These measures included applying fruit fly bait twice a week in outbreak areas and once a week in other parts, collecting and disposing of fruit to break the fruit fly’s life cycle, and applying chemicals under trees to any site where larvae were detected.

How do you dispose of fruit if you don’t have green waste disposal?

Two clear plastic bags of apricots in a backyard ready to be destroyed due to a Queensland Fruit Fly outbreak
PIRSA says people living within the 15km suspension should bag fallen fruit to destroy any fruit fly that could be inside.(ABC Riverland: Anita Ward)

Anyone living within the 15km suspension area who needs to dispose of fallen fruit should securely bag it up to destroy any fruit fly that may be within it.

Mr Secomb said the bagged fruit should be left for a couple of days and frozen or disposed of on a private property if possible.

“It all depends on temperature. On a really hot day any fruit fly that might be inside the fruit in a bag is forced out really quickly,” he said.

“But if people are going to bag it up and freeze the produce immediately then that’s fine as it’s going to kill any fruit fly in the bag anyway.

“We can’t move it out of the area though … and [people should] contact the local council to see if it can go in the red bin.”

Anyone seeking further information can contact the PIRSA fruit fly hotline on 1300 666 010.

Growers needing market access advice on which treatments to apply to their produce and what certification is required to move fruit should call 1800 255 556.

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Brexit prompts relocation of group content division to Ireland


International media group Capital Business Media has relocated its UK content marketing and SEO division to Ireland in response to the UK’s exit from the EU on January 1st.

The group, owners of the Business Matters magazine and this website, which also has offices in London and New York, will now deal with all client content marketing and SEO needs through a new Irish company, Inscriptio.

The decision to relocate the division to Ireland was made to ensure that there are no compliance and GDPR issues in line with the UK now not being covered by EU Data Protection and GDPR laws.

As part of the new trade deal, the EU did agree to delay data transfer restrictions for at least another four months. This enables personal data to flow freely from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK.

However, at the end of this four-month window, there is the possibility that the firm’s ability to send emails to the subscribers of its six magazine and online titles, as well as the panel for its business research division Trends Research, will be jeopardised.

As a company, Capital Business Media has one of the largest databases of small and medium sized businesses and their senior management who are based both in the UK and across the EEA.

With the firm working for clients both in the UK as well as within the EEA, the move was essential.

Commenting on the decision, group managing director Richard Alvin said: “During 2020, we saw a 200 percent increase in demand within our dedicated content marketing as a result of the rapid digital growth of businesses and a renewed vigour to move online.

“With so many concerns surrounding Brexit possibly threatening the day to day operation of this division within the UK, we knew in order to sustain this growth and continue offering our services, we needed to launch the division as a separate firm outside of the UK.

“It was a very easy decision considering the planned expansion of the company, and we knew that having a dedicated office based in Ireland would not only ensure our compliance, but also open up opportunities for our continued growth.”

Capital Business Media is a full-service business media company which owns and publishes the following brands: Business Matters, Fund Manager Today, Travelling for Business, EV Powered, Not Ltd, Stay & Improve and Property Portfolio Investor.

The company also publishes corporate B2C titles under licence for Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and the Infiniti Motor Corporation.

Inscriptio will be the eight business to join the group’s impressive portfolio and will be based in Dublin.

It has launched with four employees who have transferred from the companies London division with the recruitment process commencing for an additional four employees, all who will work from their homes both in the UK and Ireland.

Inscriptio clients will include the UK Government’s Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, telecommunications companies O2 and Vodafone, as well hundreds of UK and Europe based small and medium sized businesses.

The company hopes to meet their growth ambition of a €1M turnover in year two of trading.



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Extended Sydney ban prompts fears for tourism industry


Ms Palaszczuk also urged Queenslanders thinking about travelling to New South Wales and Victoria to reconsider.

“Now is a good time to stay at home,” she said.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said there needed to be 28 days of no unlinked cases for the borders to greater Sydney to reopen.

“They’ve been having a number of unlinked cases,” she said.

“They often then find the linkage, so there has been quite a few over the last week.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the announcement would spark a flurry of cancellations from interstate travellers.

“It will discourage anyone from embarking on any kind of booking in the near future — that’s an ongoing concern for us,” he said.

Mr Gschwind said interstate travel was worth $10 billion a year to Queensland, with about 40 per cent from NSW, and a large slice of that from Sydney.

“As enthusiastic as Queenslanders have been to travel within Queensland, we really need to make up some of the gaps with interstate travellers in the near future,” he said.

“Going forward we have to be able to manage the occasional case or outbreak in a balanced way, meaning focus on the hotspot, rely on the tracing, rely on the testing, rely on hygiene measures.

“Because we do want to make every effort to prevent wholesale border closures which have been so costly for our industry and the economy generally, and the community.”

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However, Mr Gschwind said it was a relief the border ban was not extended to the rest of NSW.

“We certainly hope that at the end of the month we’ll see a total resolution of the issues in greater Sydney that will allow us to open the borders to all of New South Wales,” he said.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said extending the hotspot declaration for Greater Sydney until the end of the month would provide certainty for tourism operators, and encouraged others to holiday in Queensland.

NSW and Victoria recorded no locally acquired cases of COVID on Thursday.

However, it was revealed a cleaner working in hotel quarantine in Brisbane tested positive to COVID, ending Queensland’s 113-day record of no local transmission and prompting urgent warnings for anyone with symptoms to get tested.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said he shared the Premier’s disappointment.

“I was hoping to see greater Sydney residents able to visit our region soon, to be reunited with family and friends,” he said.

“Today’s decision will impact our summer tourism numbers but at the same time, it is pleasing to see we are not in a hard lockdown border situation as that would be devastating for hundreds of thousands of travellers, and our economy.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland economic and policy adviser Jack Baxter said closing the state’s border impacted small businesses in the accommodation, hospitality and tourism industries.

“Visitors from New South Wales alone account for approximately 23 per cent of total tourism expenditure in Queensland, with a smaller proportion flowing from the greater Sydney region,” he said.

“Uncertainty is damaging to business confidence which is why the private sector continues to call for a clear and consistent framework surrounding border closures.”

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Fears of new mystery case prompts urgent testing in Victoria



Fears of new mystery case prompts urgent testing in Victoria. There are fears over a new mystery case of COVID-19 contracted at the Boxing Day Test …

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Coronavirus prompts post-Xmas retail boom in SA


South Australians are projected to fork out as much as $43 million more during this year’s Boxing Day sales compared to last year, the Retailers Association estimates, citing low coronavirus case numbers and overseas travel bans.

All up, South Australians are expected to spend $1.25 billion – an increase of 3.5 per cent on last year according to an Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan forecast.

The association’s CEO Paul Zahra told InDaily the figures indicated a “very strong result” for retailers, particularly during a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

He said the result could be attributed to the relatively low infection rates in South Australia, the stimulus cash still in the economy and money being diverted from overseas travel.

It comes off the back of strong retail sales in November, with the Zahra describing last month as “incredible” for Australian retailers.

Preliminary Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows national spending was up 13.2 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Australia Post also reported a 55.6 per cent year on year increase in online purchases in November.

“This shows Australia has well and truly embraced the global Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping tradition in the lead-up to Christmas,” Zahra said.

“We saw spending boosted this year over the lead up to Christmas, with great momentum building up to the Boxing Day sales.

“More people are shopping from the convenience of their own home, and getting the things they need delivered straight to their door.”

According to the Retailers Association, the most popular pre-Christmas purchases in South Australia included household goods and food, aligning with this year’s shift towards staying and working from home.

Zahra said while the forecasted data boded well for retailers in 2021, the association was “cautious” about the end to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is preparing to axe the JobKeeper scheme in March as part of the Government’s shift in focus to create new jobs.

Zahra said the looming cut-off date, coupled with the recent rise of COVID-19 infections in Australia and ongoing border restrictions would “begin to take their toll”.

“We believe it’s important to take a consultative approach with the business community and retailers who need as much preparation as possible for any changes to restrictions,” he said.

“We are advocating for a set of nationally agreed standards and COVID protocols so there is much more certainty for Australians and, in particular, for the business community.

“Whilst many retailers overall have managed to remain resilient, we can’t afford for 2021 to be a roller coaster of uncertainty or we will begin to pay the price in business insolvencies and jobs.”

Zahra said it was “critical” that retailers received targeted support when lockdowns occurred, with the association preferencing a hot-spot approach to containing clusters rather than sweeping statewide lockdowns.

He said South Australian retailers were also keen to see the state’s trading hours “modernise and align with other states”.

“We are in a 24/7 world – SA retail must align if it wants to thrive in what is now a global retail economy,” he said.

“NSW and Victoria set the gold standard for trading hours where retail stores are unrestricted to the exception of a few restricted days throughout the year.

“Extending trading hours during this critical period of trading would allow for foot traffic to be dispersed across a longer period, thereby delivering a more COVID-safe practice for consumers and the wider public.”

This year’s Boxing Day was the third year in the state’s history that all suburban retailers were permitted to open.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said the Government was “proud to be backing businesses to open when they choose and, in turn, providing greater flexibility for consumers and more job opportunities for those staff who want to work”.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating and, once again, South Australians have voted with their feet in favour of sensible shop trading hours reform,” he said.

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