Drivers urged to plan for weeks of Riverside Expressway closures


Brisbane’s motorists have been urged to plan ahead for at least nine nights of Riverside Expressway closures over the next three weeks to accommodate work on the adjacent Queen’s Wharf precinct.

Southbound lanes between Tank and Alice streets will be closed from 9pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays over the next three weeks. It will also close from 9pm on Sunday May 16 to 5am on Monday May 17.

The main Queen’s Wharf development is expected to open to the public in 2022.

The main Queen’s Wharf development is expected to open to the public in 2022.Credit:Attila Csaszar

The temporary disruptions are required for safety reasons to allow structural steel to be lifted into place over the major CBD thoroughfare, according to a notice on the Queen’s Wharf development site.

A detour will be in place through the city, with access from the Alice Street on-ramp to remain open for southbound traffic. Southbound tolls will be waived on the Go Between Bridge for the eight-hour blocks, with the 340 bus route to be diverted through the South Eastern Busway.

RACQ spokeswoman Lauren Ritchie said it was important for motorists to pay attention to the changed traffic conditions, to allow extra travel time, and to follow directions throughout the placement of the 60-tonne steel structure.

“The Queen’s Wharf Brisbane precinct is one of the city’s biggest developments, so unfortunately, these night-time closures are a necessary inconvenience,” Ms Ritchie said.

The site’s four new towers began emerging from the ground near George Street as part of the privately owned $3.6 billion resort and casino development in May last year, after three years of largely underground work.

Star expects the main development to open to the public in late 2022, five years after construction began in early 2017.

Multiplex Project Director Dayne May said months of planning had gone into the night closures, which involved the complex lifting of structural steel.

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Some NSW under-50s could get early Pfizer jab ‘in weeks’


The surprise news was delivered today by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who explained why the under-50 demographic could suddenly have early access to the jab.

Ms Berejiklian said if there was any “under-usage” of coronavirus vaccines from groups currently being vaccinated, that people aged 40 to 49 could sign up.

Vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine.
Vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine. (Getty)

“We’re very excited about asking people from 40 to 49 who are interested in getting the Pfizer vaccine to show their interest,” she said.

She said “we can’t tell you exactly when” that group could get their first jabs but foreshadowed it could begin “in the coming weeks”.

Ms Berejiklian did not give further details about the sign up process except to say expressions of interest would be available from 5pm today.

She made the comments while addressing media as the state opened its first mass vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park.

“The key thing … is to make sure we use every dose that’s available soon as we can,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Large groups of elderly and essential workers and other priority demographics have already been vaccinated in NSW, the premier said.

Healthcare staff are part of phase 1b of the vaccine rollout at the Olympic Park hub.

“We’re keen to finish them and start on the general public,” she said.

NSW Health officials estimated they would complete thousands of vaccinations in the first week of operation at the hub.

9News.com.au has contacted NSW Health for comment.

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Single parents will be offered help to buy their first home in next week’s federal budget



Under the measure announced ahead of Tuesday’s federal budget, up to 10,000 first-time buyers with dependants will be able to access the scheme over four years.

Single parents buying their first home may soon be able to with a deposit of only two per cent under a new federal scheme.

The program allows first home buyers to obtain a loan for a new or newly-built home with a deposit of as little as two per cent with the government guaranteeing up to 18 per cent of the loan.

Under the measure announced ahead of Tuesday’s federal budget, up to 10,000 first-time buyers with dependants will be able to access the scheme over four years.

Minster for Women’s Economic Security Jane Hume says the aim is to make the “great Australian dream” accessible for single mothers.

“We know that so many single parents use so much of their income towards rent and building that deposit is so much harder for them with the demands of children,” she said.

“So this is all about removing those barriers to building that deposit and it’s also about giving those a hand up who need it the most.”

The government has also extended its similar First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to an additional 10,000 buyers.

That scheme allows first-time buyers to build or purchase new homes with a deposit as small as five per cent.

Both measures are designed to fuel construction and boost property ownership, building on the government’s HomeBuilder program, which provided grants of $25,000 for new homes and major renovations.

“The government understands the importance of owning your own home and the significant economic and social benefits home ownership provides,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

However Labor spokesman Jason Clare said it was too little, too late.

“This government has had eight years to fix housing affordability and it’s just got worse,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“What the government’s announced today is not enough to fix this.”

Mr Clare renewed calls to scrap the cap on the number of people able to benefit from the scheme.

More than 100,000 Australians buy a home for the first time every year and the scheme at best helps only 20,000 of them, he said.

Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie called it a “cheap as chips” measure that will have no impact on struggling single parents.

There has to be more in the budget to help the one in three single parents living in poverty, she said.

“The question will be: is this it,” she said.

“It’ll help a handful … (but) we are still leaving hundreds of thousands of the lowest income, single parents absolutely behind.”

However, the Commonwealth and NAB banks and peak housing industry associations are all fans.

“The new Family Home Guarantee will be a revolution in providing single custodial parents, the overwhelming majority of whom are women, with a step up to gaining the security that comes with home ownership,” Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said.

In Sydney and NSW regional centres, the schemes are capped at homes worth $950,000, while the rest of the state has a limit of $600,000.

The cap for Melbourne and Victorian regional cities is $850,000 and elsewhere in the state, $550,000.

In Brisbane and Queensland regional centres it is $650,000 falling to $400,000 in country areas.

WA, SA, Tasmania and the NT have state-wide caps of $550,000, while the ACT limit is for dwellings worth $600,000.

More than half the first-home buyers who have accessed the scheme are under 30, while 15 per cent of the guarantees went to people over 40.

Around 85 per cent of people bought a house, with 10 per cent purchasing a unit or apartment and four per cent buying townhouses.

The average annual income for applicants is $70,000 for singles and $115,000 for couples.

The government is also increasing the amount in voluntary superannuation contributions that can be released to buy a first home from $30,000 to $50,000 and providing $124.7 million in extra state funding to bolster public housing stocks.

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Jimmy Carter, 96, and wife Rosalynn, 93, release picture from last week’s meeting with maskless Joe and Jill Biden – leaving millions baffled by its VERY odd perspective



Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn have released a picture from their meeting this week with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden – but it left social media users baffled by its odd perspective. 

The photo saw both Bidens appearing to loom large over the Carters who were pictured on sitting on two living room chairs.

All four were pictured without face masks – despite Joe Biden insisting that he wears a mask while outdoors even though he has been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The photo was taken at the Carter’s home in Plains, Georgia last Thursday, 78-year-old President Biden’s 100th day in office. 

The couple live in two-bedroom rancher the president built himself since before he entered the White House. 

Both the Carters are in their 90s. Jimmy Carter is 96 and his wife Rosalynn is 93.   

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library released the photo of the visit, with presidential historian Michael Bechloss posting it to Twitter on Monday night. It led to some humorous responses online.

‘This is an extremely odd looking picture. I have great respect for all four, but the pic is just bizarre…,’ wrote one user on Twitter.  

‘Can we discuss the perspective on this photo?’ said screen writer Jeffrey Lieber.  

‘I know people tend to shrink as they get older, but did not realize their furniture did as well,’ joked another Twitter user. 

‘I was just thinking ‘I love everyone in this photo, but wtf am I looking at?’ Is it a tiny house? Are the Biden’s giants? Are the Carter’s smurfs?’, asked Melinda Henrickson.    

‘These appear to be the smaller, back-up versions of the Carters,’ wrote Kent Heier.   

‘I know the Carters are elderly, but they are not doll size, and their home probably isn’t either,’ surmised one online poster. 

‘I love this; but the Carter’s look like miniature doll house people. Is it me??? But I love it,’ tweeted another. 

On Air Force One, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained that the visit wasn’t because Jimmy Carter was in poor health. 

‘They had said on that call they would try to connect after inauguration,’ she said, explaining that Biden and Carter had spoke by phone on the eve of Biden’s swearing-in. ‘And since they were going to Georgia they wanted to stop by and say hello.’ 

She also said the visit was unrelated to the recent death of Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, who was also a close friend of Biden’s. 

‘No, this is just, as I said, a longstanding friendship – they said they were going to try and see each other after inauguration,’ 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter and his wife were unable to attend Biden’s inauguration in January. 

But both couples are now vaccinated, and the Carters have even resumed worshipping in-person at their church, Maranatha Baptist Church. 

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Reynolds set to miss up to six weeks after tearing ligaments in his thumb



Souths officials confirmed on Saturday night their halfback will meet with a surgeon on Monday.

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‘The next two weeks are going to be hell’: Doctor in the eye of India’s Covid storm says ‘the situation is critical’ as patients die outside packed hospitals and record number of cases continue to surge



A doctor at the heart of India’s coronavirus outbreak has warned that the next two weeks ‘are going to be hell’. 

Dr Shaarang Sachdev from the Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital said that the country was experiencing its worst point of the pandemic so far. 

The country announced a record 349,661 infections and 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours and bodies are continuing to pile up, with experts predicting the surge will continue for weeks.

Speaking to Sky News, Dr Sachdev said: ‘The situation is critical right now. 

‘This pandemic is the worst we have ever seen until now. The next two weeks are going to be hell for us.’

Pointing to a young woman on a ventilator, he said: ‘That woman should be in ICU now. 

‘She’s been here for two days because there’s no beds in intensive care.’ 

The United States on Sunday led international pledges of support for India as the country grappled with worsening Covid-19 crisis with record daily death rates and severe medical shortages.

The Indian healthcare system has struggled to cope with a huge surge in cases, leaving patients’ families begging for help on social media and the capital New Delhi forced to extend its strict lockdown.

Creaking health facilities in poorer countries were also exposed on Sunday when more than 80 people died as fire ripped through a Baghdad hospital for Covid-19 patients, sparking outrage and the suspension of top Iraqi officials. 

India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, has driven increases in global case numbers in recent days, recording 349,691 new infections and 2,767 deaths on Sunday – the highest since the start of the pandemic. 

President Joe Biden said the United States was ‘determined to help India in its time of need,’ immediately making available supplies of vaccine-production material, therapeutics, tests, ventilators and protective equipment. 

France plans to assist India with oxygen capacity in the coming days to help the country cope with a record surge in Covid-19 infections, the French presidency said Sunday. 

A British Airways flight loaded with 600 pieces of medical equipment took off from London Heathrow bound for New Delhi this evening. 

The package includes 495 oxygen concentrators as well as ventilators. The equipment is set to arrive in the Indian capital early on Tuesday morning. 

The UK plans to send a total of nine airline containers of supplies this week, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators. 

India’s surging Covid second wave has so overwhelmed crematoriums that grieving families are being forced to burn victims in their own gardens. 

In Delhi, 348 deaths were recorded on Friday, one every four minutes, and in the southern state of Karnataka, the government has been forced to allow families to cremate or bury victims in their own farms, land or gardens.

 

Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa said the situation was ‘out of control’, adding: ‘It is prudent to swiftly and respectfully dispose the body in a decentralised manner keeping in view the grieving circumstance and to avoid crowding in crematoriums and burial grounds.’

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Kamala Harris yet to visit border despite being picked to lead response to migration crisis weeks ago



WILMINGTON, DE – NOVEMBER 24: Kamala Harris spoke after Joe Biden introduced key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre on November 24, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 5:32 PM PT – Saturday, April 24, 2021

It has now been more than a month since Kamala Harris was tapped to address the migration crisis at the southern border.

Friday marked 31 days that Harris has failed to hold a news conference since being made the point person on the crisis. She notably made a visit to New Hampshire on Friday to discuss her infrastructure proposal, but refused to take any questions about the topic.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as she tours the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op (NHEC), in Plymouth, N.H., Friday, April 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke as she toured the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op (NHEC), in Plymouth, N.H., Friday, April 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called out Harris for apparently forgetting that migrants are coming because Biden invited them.

There are reportedly no plans for Harris to visit the border any time soon.

MORE NEWS: Germany Imposes Strict COVID-19 Restrictions After Spike In Cases




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Elderly woman dies almost two weeks after being hit by car


An 87-year-old woman has died in hospital a fortnight after being seriously injured when she was hit by a car on Brisbane’s bayside.

The woman was struck by a silver Honda Jazz just after 1.30pm on Sunday, April 4, as she was crossing Tingal Road at Wynnum.

She had just left the Wynnum RSL.

The woman suffered serious injuries and was rushed to Princess Alexandra Hospital, where police say she succumbed to her injuries on Friday night.

The driver of the car, a 30-year-old man, was not physically hurt in the crash.

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Storm-hit banana growers to receive extra $50K in grants after weeks of uncertainty


Storm-stricken banana farmers have cautiously welcomed the Queensland Government’s latest move to increase assistance grants as they battle to recover from the disaster.

About 1,200 hectares of banana crops were affected by winds associated with Tropical Cyclone Niran, which never made landfall, on March 1.

Since then, growers like Innisfail’s Dianne Sciacca have been locked in a protracted dispute with the state over help offered to primary producers, especially following more generous support for New South Wales flood victims.

“It was 10 per cent of total growers, but we lost 100 per cent of our crop, [our argument was] why is that any less significant?” she said.

Initially, farmers were offered $25,000 emergency grants under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), however last night a state government spokeswoman confirmed the premier requested an increase to $75,000, co-funded by the Commonwealth.

The Federal government previously advised growers it would confirm any upgrade to disaster assistance if the state premier applied for such increases.

Mrs Sciacca laid off a dozen staff last month and hoped the extra funding would enable her to reemploy some of those workers.

But she is critical of the parameters that surround spending the emergency grants, saying capital infrastructure repairs come second to employing people to help clean up and replant.

President of the Cassowary Coast Banana Growers’ Association Dean Sinton has more than halved his workforce from 14 to six and says he will have to farewell another two by next week.

“Growth rates this time of year are high,” he said.

“When you’re short-staffed it prolongs the process of getting around farms to get jobs done.”

Mr Sinton’s business applied for JobKeeper but along with much of the industry, he was unsuccessful in gaining approvals.

The Martyville farmer said a wage subsidy, an initial request made by the dozen or so worst-hit growers, would be useful for the medium term.

“I’m sure a 50 per cent subsidy would go a long way, probably for the next six months,” Mr Sinton said.

“By that stage severely affected growers would have some sort of productivity going.”

Mrs Sciacca said Category C help under DRFA was well-meaning but not tailored for the horticulture industry.

“We don’t need fencing and you can’t grow a crop if you don’t get in and clean-up,” she said.

“The money is needed to employ people.

In response, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said he was yet to hear from growers’ organisations about wage subsidies, but was willing to engage on the matter. 

Six weeks after the storm, growers expressed frustration at the lack of engagement from the state, during which the matter passed through three different ministers’ hands.

Hill MP Shane Knuth said he understood the different agencies involved came under different portfolios, but things needed to be streamlined in the future.

“There’s the [Queensland] Reconstruction Authority that comes under a different minister,” he said.

Mr Knuth said he would support a review of the time taken to approve the extra funding.

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Star Adelaide Crow Chelsea Randall is gutted to miss this week’s AFLW grand final, but hopes her clear-eyed stance on concussion acts as an example to footballers at all levels.


But it’s not hard to think of other footballers who would have spent this week exhausting every medical and legal avenue in an effort to play. Injury drama is the stuff of grand final week. In a certain men’s competition we could name, can you imagine the fuss?

Chelsea Randall (right) in action against Collingwood during the AFLW season.Credit:Getty Images

And Randall is first and foremost a footballer, a trailblazer of this pioneering era of the women’s competition, a three-time All-Australian, and already a dual premiership co-captain, which of course does not mean that she has had enough, but yearns for more. It’s why footballers play.

But as the interview shows, Randall is also a leader, conscious always of a good greater than her own.

“As much as I am gutted, devastated, sad that I won’t be taking the field with my teammates in the grand final,” she says, ” the last six months – the last 10 games – haven’t been about me. It hasn’t been about one individual. It’s been about this group.

“They don’t need me. They’ve proven that, themselves. They can get the job done without me.”

She said she would be on the boundary line, anxious and proud like a parent.

When the AFL mandated earlier this year that a concussed player sit out for 12 days, so nearly always ruling him or her out of the next game, some immediately asked: what if it’s a grand final? Now, clarified by Randall, the answer is plain: they don’t play. Full stop.

There was one solution floating around in the footy ether this week. It was to move the bye from the end of the home-and-away series to the week before the grand final. This is unsustainable in two ways. One is that the pre-finals bye has been good for the game, freshening up all teams in the finals.

The other is that a pre-grand final bye for the sake of concussion, a relatively rare occurrence, would be an overreaction. Worse, since we’ve at last decided to take head injuries utterly seriously, it would look like a work-around, which would raise doubts about how seriously we’re taking head injuries after all.

Listen to a leader with her head screwed on.

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