What we know today, Monday June 21

Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

Robbie Gray to have knee surgery

Port Adelaide star Robbie Gray will target an AFL return in the final stages of the regular season, having been booked for knee surgery.

Gray’s 250th match ended prematurely on Saturday when he was substituted at halftime of Port’s win over Gold Coast.

Follow-up scans revealed the torn medial ligament in his left knee required surgery.

The Power expect Gray, one of their most important players and a three-time best and fairest, to be on the sidelines for eight weeks.

There are nine rounds remaining in 2021, meaning any setback in the 33-year-old’s recovery could put him at risk of missing the start of finals.

Port defender Lachie Jones is also set to be out of action, having suffered a hamstring injury against the Suns which will sideline him for at least a month.

Two new COVID cases take Syd cluster to 11

Two new locally transmitted cases have been recorded in NSW, taking Sydney’s eastern suburbs COVID cluster to 11.

The pair – a woman in her 50s from Sydney’s north and a man in his 30s from the eastern suburbs – were both close contacts of previously reported cases, and were diagnosed while in isolation.

Both were diagnosed after the 8pm cut off and will be included in Tuesday’s numbers.

Another two cases, announced on Sunday morning, were diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday and have been included in Monday’s figures.

The growing cluster has prompted the government to mandate mask-wearing in seven local council areas.

Anyone shopping, working in hospitality or indoors must wear a mask unless eating or drinking if they live in the local government areas of Randwick, Bayside, Botany Bay, Inner West, City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra.

Masks are also compulsory on public transport in Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas until Thursday.

Greater Sydney and Blue Mountains residents have been told to avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities and if visiting must wear a mask with a limit of two visitors a day.

Roberts-Smith COVID test interrupts trial

Ben Roberts-Smith’s high-profile defamation trial has been adjourned as the war hero waits on the outcome of a COVID-19 test.

On Monday, the Federal Court trial in Sydney was told that Mr Roberts-Smith, 42, had the COVID-19 test on Sunday after attending a CBD venue on Thursday.

“The applicant was required to undertake a COVID test yesterday,” his barrister, Arthur Moses SC, told the court.

The court heard that no test result had yet been received on Monday morning and Justice Anthony Besanko adjourned proceedings until 2.15pm.

It was told that Mr Roberts-Smith has been self-isolating since the test.

The VC winner has completed his evidence in chief and was due on Monday morning to recommence in the witness box under cross-examination from the respondents’ barrister Nicholas Owens SC.

Roberts-Smith, 42, is suing three newspapers over reports from 2018 critical of his military deployments in Afghanistan where he did six tours from 2006 to 2012.

The former SAS corporal denies all the claims against him, while the publishers advance a truth defence.

Other witnesses expected to appear include ex-SAS soldiers, Afghan villagers as well as federal MP Andrew Hastie and former Liberal politician Brendan Nelson.

PM dismisses criticism of UK side trip

Scott Morrison has brushed off criticism of a secret side trip to explore his family history during a recent visit to the United Kingdom.

The prime minister visited three local pubs and retraced his Cornish roots at the same time as he publicly argued Britain was too risky a destination for Australian travellers.

He also visited an old jail and laid flowers for an ancestor born there in 1755.

The personal trip south of the G7 summit wasn’t disclosed to the media and has sparked anger among Australians stuck overseas, who’ve described it as insensitive and tone deaf.

Morrison defended tracing his family roots and insisted Australians would not see the trip as a double standard.

“It was pretty innocent … that’s massively overstating it,” he told 2GB radio on Monday.

The prime minister said his plane landed north of London rather than Cornwall because of the fog and the delegation stopped off along the way.

“We had some lunch and stopped off in another location on the way,” Mr Morrison said.

“And after the G7 on the way to the airport, we stopped at another place, which just happens to be where my fifth great grandfather was from.”

The prime minister said he certainly hoped Australians would be able to travel overseas by next Christmas.

Morrison said what happened overseas over summer would determine if and when Australia reopened its borders.

“We’ll learn a lot from that,” he said.

“If it’s not causing serious illnesses and rising hospitalisations, then that will be important information for our medical experts to look at and give us good advice about what that means for travel.”

Emergency meeting to tackle vaccine rollout woes

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout will be the sole focus of today’s emergency national cabinet meeting after changing advice on the AstraZenaca vaccine late last week piled more pressure on state programs.

Scott Morrison will chair the meeting via video link from The Lodge, where he is in isolation following his European trip last week.

The national cabinet meeting was called last week after Australia’s health experts decided the AstraZenaca vaccine should now be given only to people over 60, rather than over 50s as was their previous advice.

It followed fresh concerns over clotting following the vaccination, which has caused two deaths among the 3.8 million doses that have been delivered.

It will put extra pressure on rolling out the Pfizer vaccine.

Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan told reporters in Canberra on Sunday a vaccine update would be delivered after the meeting.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout was an “absolute shambles”.

“We do not have the supply of second doses from the Commonwealth to match the demand for first doses,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Western Australia Health Minister Roger Cook is equally frustrated by supply limitations.

“But we’re working with what we’ve got and WA has been very successful. We have vaccinated a higher proportion of our population than any mainland state,” he told reporters in Perth.

Professor McMillan said despite the changes to the rollout, people in the 50-59 age group who had had their first shot of AstraZenaca vaccine were strongly recommended to get their second jab.

“That’s how you’ll get maximum protection and that’s part of the two-dose program,” she said.

Mask rules tighten as Bondi cluster grows

NSW has recorded three new locally acquired COVID-19 cases as some Sydneysiders were ordered to don masks indoors amid the city’s growing outbreak.

Two new local cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, one of which had been revealed by health authorities on Saturday. The other case is a close contact of the previously recorded case.

Another two additional cases in the southern Sydney shire of Sutherland were recorded after the 8pm deadline. They are both close contacts of previously reported cases.

It takes Sydney’s eastern suburbs outbreak to nine cases, with the growing Bondi cluster prompting new mask-wearing rules.

Anyone shopping, working in hospitality or indoors must wear a mask unless eating or drinking if they live in the local government areas of Randwick, Bayside, Botany Bay, Inner West, City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government would also extend compulsory mask-wearing on public transport in Greater Sydney until Thursday and expand the order to Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas.

Late on Sunday, NSW Health released a list of 27 new exposure sites including a North Face outlet in Drummoyne. More causal sites are in Drummoyne along with others at Castle Hill, Merrylands, central Sydney and Hurstville.

South Australian authorities announced border restrictions on Saturday night for people who have been in Sydney’s Waverley council area in the eastern suburbs.

Affected travellers to SA will be required to complete 14 days of self-quarantine.

Meanwhile, a flight attendant who tested positive for coronavirus in Brisbane after undergoing the full 14 days of hotel quarantine doesn’t have the Delta strain.

The woman aged in her 30s arrived in Brisbane on June 5 on an Emirates flight that also transported a passenger with the more infectious Delta variant.

Authorities suspected she picked up the Delta strain from the passenger but genomic sequencing results confirmed otherwise.

“It’s good news the case isn’t the highly transmissible Delta variant, but we do still need to take every precaution,” Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

She reminded people to isolate if they had visited listed exposure sites including Brisbane’s airport DFO, the Brisbane CBD and a Portuguese family centre.

An outbreak of the Delta strain – the dominant variant in India and the UK – led to the recent lockdown in Victoria.

Victoria reported no new local cases on Sunday, with an expert panel ruling two returned travellers who completed hotel quarantine have “historical infections”.

Man killed in KI crash

A man has died following a fatal crash west of Parndana on Kangaroo Island yesterday.

Police and emergency services were called to Playford Highway after reports of a car rollover at Duncan just after 7.15am.

A 24-year-old man from Kingscote died at the scene. A 25-year-old man also from Kingscote was airlifted to the Flinders Medical Centre in a serious condition.

Meanwhile, a drink driver allegedly crashed into parked cars at Port Willunga yesterday afternoon.

Police received reports of a Holden sedan hitting a parked vehicle in the Star of Greece carpark about 4pm yesterday before the woman behind the wheel drove off.

The driver was followed by a witness as she drove off south along the Esplanade where she allegedly then crashed into a second parked car a few hundred metres away.

Two boys, 11 and 8 years had just got into the parked car before the crash. Both were treated at the scene by paramedics for shock and minor injuries.

Police arrived and breath tested the 52-year-old woman who returned an alleged blood alcohol reading of 0.197 – almost four times the legal limit.

She was reported for drink driving and numerous traffic offences and will be summonsed to appear in the Christies Beach Magistrates Court at a date to be set.

SA groups demand clean water for all

A consortium of health and social welfare groups are calling on the state government to take measures to ensure communities in regional and remote South Australia have access to safe and affordable drinking water ahead of tomorrow’s State Budget.

Their call comes as the State Government progresses work on its draft Water Security Statement for South Australia – the first major statewide strategy for water security for over a decade.

A report in May found a lack of government action and accountability had left some regional towns and communities without safe, reliable water supplies.

“Water is just simply fundamental,” said SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley.

“People need access to safe, secure, and affordable water as one of the essentials of life. Communities need water to survive and thrive. And of course water also supports businesses, agriculture and industry.”

“Unfortunately in some areas of South Australia, people are living without that most basic of necessities. This is not something that gets a lot of attention, unless an issue flares up in the media somewhere, but it is a day-to-day reality for some communities in regional and remote SA.”

“We are calling for a more ambitious vision which ensures access to safe, affordable and secure water supply for communities right across South Australia. We need a proactive plan, rather than dealing with issues in a reactive way when they arise or hit the headlines.”

The submission is from SACOSS together with the Public Health Association Australia SA Branch, Australian Medical Association (South Australia), Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Community Centres SA, Consumers SA and the Council on the Ageing SA, have united in a call for action and leadership.

“This is the moment to do something – to once and for all address the embarrassing state of affairs where some citizens in our state do not have access to clean, affordable and reliable drinking water,” Womersley said.

The recent ‘Falling through the gaps’ report commissioned by SACOSS and released in May, highlighted a gap in policy, planning and regulation in ensuring standards of water services in regional and remote communities in SA.

Pride march death may be accidental

The driver who slammed into spectators at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one person and seriously injuring another, may have done so accidentally.

Saturday’s crash at the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade initially drew speculation, including from the mayor of nearby Fort Lauderdale, that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

However, Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli said on Sunday that the early investigation shows it was an accident. The driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.

“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Ali Adamson told reporters that authorities were investigating all possibilities from the collision.

The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group of mostly older men.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” President Justin Knight said in a statement Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident.”

Rolli was on the float in front of the chorus truck along with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and other city officials. Trantalis said the driver of a pickup truck suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next in the parade, crashing into the victims.

Russian ambassador returns to US after spat

Russia’s ambassador to the United States has returned to his duties after his plane landed at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, marking the end of a three-month absence from the US.

Anatoly Antonov was recalled earlier this year after Moscow protested when US President Joe Biden, in a TV interview, responded affirmatively when he was asked if he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was a killer.

At the same time, the US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, had headed home under the shadow of new US sanctions imposed on Russia.

They were a punishment, Washington said, for Russian cyberattacks on American interests, as well as for allegations of vote tampering.

Relations between the two countries have taken a chill in recent months, as the new Biden administration lashes out against Russian policies.

But Biden and Putin met in Geneva last week and agreed that they would return their ambassadors, in an attempt to reduce diplomatic tensions.

Upon arrival in New York, Antonov said he would be back at work on Monday.

“The task is to simply work and implement the positive words that were pronounced by the presidents,” he said upon arrival from Russia, according to the Itar-TASS news agency.

– with AAP and Reuters

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