Experts probe possible link between vaccine and woman's death; Federal Court rules Google misled customers on location data; PM flags future of international travel; Royals prepare for Prince Philip's funeral



By Tom Livingstone16 Apr 2021 07:02Scott Morrison thanked the Australian Defence Force personnel who are in Kalbarri and surrounding areas, helping with the recovery effort after Cyclone Seroja swept through on the weekend.He also commended the local SES who helped ensure some 7000 locals were safely evacuated prior to the storm hitting.”Some 7000 or so weren’t there. People who were in this town before that cyclone hit and the commander of the local SES made sure that people got out. That clearly saved lives,” Mr Morrison said.”That quick thinking, that experience that was needed in that moment, the work that was done as a community to get people to safety was extraordinaryand we are now in the position where the injuries here are minor, substantially, and there has certainly been no loss of life and that is, indeed, a miracle, given what we’ve seen happen as a result of this terrible cyclone.”

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Gold Coast couple’s Australian 4WD Hire company systematically lied to customers, Federal Court rules


A damning Federal Court judgment has found their Australian 4WD Hire business systematically lied to customers and used unfair contracts to demand they pay the full costs of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles, even if there was no damage.

Ruling on a lawsuit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Justice Darren Jackson cancelled those contracts and fined parent company Smart Corporation $870,000 for misleading or deceptive conduct.

It is unclear whether that fine will be clawed out of the company because it is now in liquidation.

But its former controllers — businessman Vitali Roesch and his wife Maryna Kosukhina — have been given 21 days to repay customers $9,500.

If they do not, they “will be liable to imprisonment, sequestration of property or other punishment”, along with anyone who knowingly helps them breach the order.

The couple will also be forced to pay fines of $179,000 and $174,000 each.

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Australian rules football is booming in Sydney. Is it happening at rugby’s expense?


“But I’m a bit of a funny one. I like that boy who sits in the classroom and now has a voice. Instead of being laughed at or ridiculed or ignored, now he’s got a friendship group that actually understands what he’s involved in.”

More than just an elite talent pathway, the AFL academies are a recruitment program for the code wars – and business is booming, particularly in areas that were once regarded as rugby union heartland.

AFL insiders are reluctant to broach that subject, even privately. They insist they have grown the sporting pie in NSW – not eaten into rugby’s share of it. But the evidence is compelling.

According to AFL NSW/ACT, participation in Sydney’s north and around the city has rocketed by nearly 200 per cent over the last decade. Sport Australia’s AusPlay data shows that, between 2016 and 2019, adult AFL participation in NSW (71,325 in 2019) overtook rugby (52,999).

In 2012, Waratahs amost matched the Swans for average crowds sitting in the mid-20,000 range. After a steady decline since, the Waratahs’ average crowd is almost one-third the size (31,069 vs 13,176 in 2019).

The north shore and eastern suburbs have emerged as footy strongholds, and GPS schools which once pumped out Wallabies are now putting up AFL goalposts to satisfy surging student demand. In 2013 there were only six independent schools in Sydney with AFL programs. Now there are 14, with 62 boys teams.

The academies have helped accelerate a process that was already underway. There are myriad factors involved: the Swans’ ability to contend for finals almost every year, the addition of the GWS Giants in 2012. A cohesive governance and management model, where junior clubs and state bodies know their place in the pecking order. The raging success of AusKick, and growing concerns amongst parents about concussion in the rugby codes. All of these have combined to boost Aussie rules at every level in NSW.

Rugby’s recent struggles, and the woes of the Waratahs, certainly haven’t helped. Anecdotally, there has been a migration of fans from the Waratahs to the Swans, which former ARU chief executive John O’Neill first noted to the Herald two years ago – and current Waratahs boss Paul Doorn also admits has probably occurred.

Greg Harris – the former Waratahs CEO, who played first-grade football in Aussie rules, rugby union and rugby league in Sydney, and was the Swans’ chairman of selectors in 1994-1996 – can also recognise it.

As he made his way to Olympic Park for a Wallabies Test match in 2018, he saw families clad in red and white, orange and charcoal, heading the other way after an AFL derby at Giants Stadium.

“I said to my wife, there’s a whole generation rugby’s lost,” Harris said.

The Waratahs used to get crowds on par with the Swans – now they’re barely above the Giants.Credit:Getty

“These things are generational. They don’t happen overnight. I don’t think it’s been a deliberate strategy by the AFL to say, ‘let’s take rugby union’s supporters’. But the AFL long ago identified that every participant brings along a commercial partner. In other words, if my kid’s playing footy, I go and watch footy, and so does my wife and my parents. Participation brings commercial benefits.

“The most important thing you have in any business model is control of your business. That’s what the AFL has. The attitude in rugby is if we beat the All Blacks, the game will be OK. Any business that depends upon one focal point to develop its income stream is always going to be susceptible to failure.”

The phenomenon is being led primarily by the Swans – although that’s to be expected given they have a 30-year head start on the Giants, who face a much tougher task converting the masses in the western suburbs. Most of GWS’s academy graduates come from regional NSW, not western Sydney, but their presence is still being keenly felt, and their average crowds are now almost on par with the Waratahs.

”We are struggling for players. We’re not the only ones,” said Brian Blacklock, the president of the Western Sydney Two Blues rugby club, which is based in Parramatta.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scores for the Reds in a big win over the Waratahs at a sparsely attended ANZ Stadium.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scores for the Reds in a big win over the Waratahs at a sparsely attended ANZ Stadium.Credit:Getty

“Whether that’s a byproduct of the growth of Aussie Rules I can’t say, but it certainly wouldn’t be helping. From a branding point of view, they’re killing it. In terms of their ability to be able to clearly identify what their offering is and the potential pathways are, they’re miles in front.

“I remember 20 years ago, there was a fantastic campaign, I want to be a Wallaby. How do I become a Wallaby? Well you start playing here and away you go. That doesn’t exist now. I struggle to name Waratahs players and I’m in the game. Now I couldn’t name a single Swans or Giants players either, but I’m sure their fans have clearly identified who they are and what they’re about.”

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Blacklock recalled an old story from a friend, whose son – a Swans and Waratahs fan – was turning 10. He contacted both clubs to see if they could send him any memorabilia.

“The Waratahs sent out a couple of posters and a signed footy. The Swans sent out two injured players to his birthday party,” he said. “It was a while ago, but it sort of shows the difference in resources, and that’s the bottom line.”

Getting them early seems to be the AFL’s modus operandi, and it’s working. Smith said the influence of winning over young athletes, who are “peer leaders” in classrooms and friendship circles, was key to bringing more kids into the tent.

Doorn, who joined the Waratahs at the start of 2020, watches on in envy.

“I’m sure there’s a percentage of people that have shifted from one sport to the other,” he said.

“And I’d like to suggest that when rugby’s going well, there’s a lot of people who would come back. But I’m happy to admit that the success of the Swans in particular and the growth of the GWS Giants means that people have other things they can support.

Sydney’s Tom Hickey during AFL match between the Sydney Swans and Adelaide Crows at the SCG.

Sydney’s Tom Hickey during AFL match between the Sydney Swans and Adelaide Crows at the SCG.Credit:Phil Hillyard

“We don’t see them as a threat, but they do certain things really, really well, and we aspire to do as well one day.“

A crowd of around 30,000 is expected on Saturday for the AFL derby. The Swans are heavily favoured to go 5-0, and are still riding the wave of energy provided by an influx of impressive draftees – like Gulden, the academy product who is already a fan favourite, four games into his career.

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The next ones are coming. Smith can remember how at the start of the Swans academy, there were only about a dozen players in each age group who were competent kicks.

“Now within the academy, the way the boys are whizzing the ball around – and we’re slowly getting that traction with the girls as well – the skill level and the game knowledge has increased significantly over those 10 years,” he said.

“We’ve always been confident that our game, once you actually do play it, it’s a very enjoyable game. All we needed to do is at least give kids at school and in the community an option to play it.”

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EC rules out clubbing poll phases


Kolkata/Berhampore: Undeterred by the exponential rise in daily cases of the coronavirus disease across the country and West Bengal, the Election Commission of India (EC) ruled out a possibility of clubbing the remaining phases of the ongoing Assembly elections in the state due to lack of availability of another 1,500 companies of the Central paramilitary forces.

“There is no such plan of clubbing” the three poll phases, the Election Commission said after new Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra took stock of the ground reality from various poll observers deputed in the state and chief electoral officer West Bengal Ariz Aftab in a video conference.

 

At the meeting, opinions were also sought from them about the deployment and distribution of the Central forces in case of clubbing the last three poll phases after the state recorded daily new Covid-19 cases at 6,769 till Thursday with 22 fresh deaths in the last 24 hours, sources said.

This time, election to the West Bengal Assembly is being held in eight phases. Polling for four phases have ended and the fifth phase will be held on Saturday. Polling for the sixth, seventh and the eighth phase will be held on April 22, April 26 and April 29, respectively.

 

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday evening also appealed to the EC to club the “remaining phases” of the polls into one, within few hours of the central poll panel’s decision to go ahead with the existing poll schedule even after the deadly virus claimed a Congress candidate’s life and infected two others, including one from the Trinamul Congress in the state. She also stressing that her party had opposed the prolonged eight-phase poll schedule.

The TMC supremo tweeted, “Amid an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed @ECISVEEP’s decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases. Now, in view of the huge surge in #COVID19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go. This will protect the people from further exposure to #COVID19.”

 

Ms Banerjee’s plea to the EC’s move came a day after Mr Aftab called an all-party meeting, to be attended by one representative each from 10 political parties, at 2 pm on Friday to discuss the strict compliance of Covid-19 guidelines in light of the fresh wave.

All political parties in West Bengal have been asked to send only one representative each for the meeting. The meeting will discuss matters related to campaigning for the remaining phases of the election.

Among the deceased, was a Congress candidate at Shamshergunj in Murshidabad: Rejaul Haque Biswas (51), alias Montu, who was infected by Covid-19 two days ago. He was brought from Basumati Hospital in Jangipur of the district on Wednesday night to a private hospital off EM Bypass in Kolkata. He died there at around 5 am on Thursday becoming the first poll candidate to fall prey to the virus.

 

State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “I spoke to him two days ago. I was scheduled to address a rally in his support in Shamshergunj. But Covid-19 snatched his life so early.” Besides Sanjkuta Morcha candidate from the RSP at Jangipur: Pradip Nandy tested covid positive. Admitted at the Berhampore Covid Hospital, his condition is stated to be critical. In the TMC, Goalpokhar candidate Golam Rabbani has also been infected by Covid-19.

Mr Chowdhury added, “I request everybody, including the EC, with folded hands to check this pandemic during the polls. The Congress will abide by any decision for the sake of life.”

 

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NZ to launch world-first climate change rules



New Zealand is to become the world’s first country to bring in a law forcing its financial firms to report on the effects of climate change.

The country wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and says the financial sector needs to play its part.

Banks, insurers and fund managers can do this by knowing the environmental effect of their investments, says its Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Legislation is expected to receive its first reading this week.

“This law will bring climate risks and resilience into the heart of financial and business decision making,” said Mr Shaw.

About 200 of the country’s biggest companies and several foreign firms that have assets of more than NZ$1bn ($703m, £511m) will come under the legislation.

“Becoming the first country in the world to introduce a law like this means we have an opportunity to show real leadership and pave the way for other countries to make climate-related disclosures mandatory,” said New Zealand’s Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark.

The law will force financial firms to assess not only their own investments, but also to evaluate the companies they are lending money to, in terms of their environmental impact.

“While some businesses have started publishing reports about how climate change may affect their business, strategies and financial position, there is still a long way to go,” added Mr Clark.

Once the law is passed, companies will have to start reporting on climate change impact in 2023.

Banks have come under increasing pressure to step up efforts to help fight climate change.

Last week, the Duke of Cambridge urged banks to “invest in nature” to help fight global climate change.

Speaking at an IMF and World Bank meeting, Prince William said protecting nature continued to play only a small part in combating global warming.

“We must invest in nature, through reforestation, sustainable agriculture and supporting healthy oceans… because doing so is one of the most cost effective and impactful ways of tackling climate change,” he said.

In the US, more than 300 businesses and investors, including tech giant Apple, called on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate-change goal on Tuesday.

This would cut US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is nearly double America’s previous commitment on emissions reduction,

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Care home residents ‘barred’ from voting in local elections because of Covid rules



But Ms Rayner said this should be a choice, and not because other opportunities have been removed.

She said: “As soon as it became apparent that everyone would not be able to share full access to the voting options, then the elections should have been paused, or we should have found a way where the opportunities for all to vote were equalised.

She added that it “should not be acceptable” that residents cannot vote in their local polling station without having to isolate for 14 days, when the rest of the population is out going to the pub, shopping and even socialising in gardens.

A previous version of the DHSC guidance, introduced on March 8, limited visits out of care homes to residents of working age.

It was updated last week, dropping restrictions preventing people over the age of 65 from taking trips outside the home.

It followed a legal challenge by the group John’s Campaign, which argued that the Government was acting unlawfully by imposing a blanket ban regardless of the health of the individual.

The group said at the time that it wants to see the 14-day self-isolation requirement amended.



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Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is set for a major shake-up. What are the new rules and how will they impact you?


The federal government has secured a contract for an extra 20 million Pfizer doses but there have already been delays in getting vaccines from European suppliers.

So what’s the current state of play with Queensland’s vaccine delivery?

Here’s everything you need to know.

After a tiny number of people, mainly under 50 years of age, experienced deadly brain clots from the AstraZeneca jab, Australian authorities advised an abundance of caution.

It’s now not recommended that people under 50 get the AstraZeneca jab because they have the highest risk of clots.

That was the group that was lined up to get the AstraZeneca vaccine — younger people with lower risk factors for COVID-19.

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Covid: Over 100 Paris restaurant diners fined for violating rules



More than 100 diners at a restaurant in Paris have been fined and the manager arrested for violating Covid restrictions, French police say.

Officers were called to an address in the capital following a noise complaint and discovered a clandestine gathering, Paris police tweeted on Saturday.

“Guests [were] fined for non-compliance with health measures,” the tweet said.

It comes days after French police launched an investigation into alleged fine dining and parties in the city.

Last week, private TV channel M6 broadcast an undercover film it said was from a hidden camera, showing diners enjoying caviar, champagne and truffles at two upmarket venues.

In response to the report, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin ordered a probe, saying that such gatherings – breaching Covid lockdown rules – would be “totally unacceptable”.

The latest incident occurred on Friday in the 19th arrondissement (district) of Paris and involved “over 110 people”, police said.

The undercover film broadcast by M6 on 2 April showed an unnamed private dining club in a “smart district” of Paris, where guests were told they could remove their masks.

The video points out the penalties for lockdown offences in France; potentially a year in jail and a €15,000 (£13,000) fine for putting someone’s life at risk and, for each guest, potentially a €135 fine for violating the curfew and another €135 for not wearing a mask.

Surging coronavirus cases in France have prompted a new partial nationwide lockdown amid fears that hospitals may become overwhelmed with patients.

All schools and non-essential shops are shut and a curfew is in place from 19:00 to 06:00.

France has recorded just over five million cases of Covid-19 and at least 98,202 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reports.

The country has struggled with an EU-wide delay in the vaccine rollout, as well as several new strains of the virus.

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NRL 2021: Australian Rugby League commission, 18th man, HIA rules, three concussions, Phil Rothfield reveals conditions


The Australian Rugby League commission is expected to sign off on a decision to allow teams to use an 18th man on Tuesday.

But the planned roll out of the new ruling is set to come with strings attached in an attempt to stop coaches rorting the system.

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Speaking on NRL360 on Fox League, The Daily Telegraph’s Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield revealed that the commission would meet and sign it off.

Round 4

Buzz and Kenty debate 18th man rule

4:03

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Western Bulldogs and West Coast Eagles showcased Australian rules football in its purest form


The ball pinged from one end of Docklands to the other, bodies crashed in on the ground and in the air – Sunday’s clash between the Western Bulldogs and West Coast Eagles was football in its purest and richest form.

Laitham Vandermeer’s shepherd, Jamie Cripps’s tackle, Bailey Williams win against the odds on the half-back flank, Nic Naitanui’s tap work, clutch kicks and smothers — I could go on and on – left you gagging for more.

The Bulldogs came from 14 points down in the last quarter to win a match that contained 12 lead changes and had you so engaged your head was protruding through the commentary box window.

West Coast had taken control of the game in the third quarter with Natanui and midfield weapon Tim Kelly combining superbly. The Eagles dominated the air both in defence and attack, where Jack Darling, Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy were all influential.

When that trio failed to mark it, they put the ball to ground for Liam Ryan and Jamaine Jones to get busy.

That the Bulldogs pulled off an amazing win was in no small part due to their breathtaking level of desperation and commitment, personified by the unflinching efforts of Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae, Williams and emerging star Bailey Smith.

And then there was Marcus Bontempelli.

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Bontempelli with a football is like Shakespeare with a pen — every stroke is wondrous, albeit the Bont produces the stuff of dreams in mid-autumn, winter and the start of spring.

The Western Bulldogs captain amassed 14 telling possessions in the opening term, finished with 30 for the match and kicked three goals including the sealer at the 32-minute mark. The Bulldogs-heavy crowd of 21,000 almost blew the roof off the stadium.

Calling footy off the TV in the ABC boardroom during Melbourne’s lockdown last season seemed a million miles away. It was footy at its absolute best.

There is no doubt recent rule changes have enhanced the spectacle. The new man on the mark rule has led to an attack-first mentality, and giving defenders more room at kick-ins has almost completely eliminated those painful chips to the back pocket and laborious movement of the ball from inside the defensive 50.

On a couple of occasions, Eagles veteran Shannon Hurn launched bombs into the middle of the ground that Ben Graham would have been proud of. The game is more open and as a result more enjoyable.

While the Eagles were ultimately beaten on Sunday they remain a serious threat this year, especially with the imminent return of their captain Luke Shuey from a hamstring injury and Elliott Yeo (groin) also still to come back.

Demons look dangerous

I had a few conversations with Melbourne supporters I know in the lead-up to this AFL season and was taken by the shared sense of pessimism.

Even the Coodabeen Champions’ famous talkback caller Danny from Droop Street would have struggled to match these Demons for negativity when it came to their team’s prospects.

Melbourne’s round-one win over Fremantle did little to brighten the prevailing mood. The Dockers are a developing side, not much good in Melbourne and it was a scrappy win was the general consensus.

Saturday night seemed a psychological turning point. From former captain Garry Lyon’s stirring pre-match address onwards, Melbourne’s performance struck the right chord.

Yes, at times the ball use was again scrappy, but the Demons genuinely looked dangerous in their three-goal win over St Kilda. Melbourne’s 31 scoring shots to the Saints’ 18 offered a truer reflection of the side’s overall dominance.

The 2020 season was a long-awaited breakout year for Christian Petracca and it seems he is only going from strength to strength. As always, Clayton Oliver accumulated a stack of possessions, but he used the ball more damagingly and Tom McDonald is slowly returning to some of the form that helped the Demons to a preliminary final in 2018.

Kysaiah Pickett (right) gave the Demons much-needed spark in their win over the Saints.(

AAP: Scott Barbour

)

Simon Goodwin’s side also possesses young players who get you excited. Luke Jackson is showing glimpses, James Jordan looks a player and Kysaiah Pickett … goodness me.

The midfield to forward connection has been an ongoing problem for Melbourne but the side is starting to play with more synergy. Star recruit Ben Brown will be highly encouraged as he nears his recovery from knee surgery. The fast and more open game style of 2021 has been suiting the lead-up forwards and there are few better than the gangly mop-haired Tasmanian.

On the topic of key forwards, most thought Adelaide’s Taylor Walker would struggle to replicate his opening-round form at the SCG on Saturday.

Walker, whose decorated career appeared to have reached a period of steady decline, produced a vintage performance in the first round with five goals in a shock win over Geelong. Big Tex produced in a big way again against Sydney with six goals in a losing side. Perhaps a few people — including me — have been guilty of writing off the champion too early.

A group of Sydney Swans AFL players embrace after a goal was kicked against the Crows.
Lance Franklin (second from right) made a solid return for the Swans.(

AAP: Dean Lewins

)

At the other end of the ground, it was marvellous to see a long-lost ‘Buddy’. Footy is better for Lance Franklin and more than a year and a half after his last senior game he was his usual commanding presence, kicking three goals for the Swans in their 33-point win.

Franklin needs another 53 goals to become only the sixth player in the history of the VFL/AFL to kick 1,000 goals.

Lockett, Coventry, Dunstall, Wade, Ablett … Franklin? Names that go pretty well together, if you ask me.

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