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Vixens hit hard in pocket for refusing to fly to Perth



The Melbourne Vixens have accepted a costly punishment for refusing to travel to Perth last season to play the Fever.

The Melbourne Vixens have called for Super Netball’s “protocols” to be reviewed after begrudgingly accepting sanctions of more than $80,000 in fines and match costs for their failure to travel to Perth last season to play West Coast Fever.

The punishment comes after the completion of a Netball Australia investigation into why June’s round eight game between the teams had to be rescheduled.

The Vixens refused to travel to Perth after three of their players were denied entry to Western Australia after having visited Byron Bay, a Covid-19 “red zone”.

The Fever claimed the Vixens could have replaced the three “compromised” players but decided not to.

“This is not in the best interests of the competition and devastating for our club, members, sponsors and fans,” the Fever said in a statement at the time.

The investigation – completed by the competition’s compliance manager – found that the Vixens had breached Super Netball’s team participation agreement by not travelling to Perth to play the match.

The Vixens have been fined $50,000 – half of which is suspended for two years – and ordered to pay $31,702.92 for the costs to replay the match at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on July 22.

Netball Victoria, who own and operate the Vixens, have accepted the fine despite their unhappiness with the investigation.

“We are disappointed with the outcome considering the evidence we supplied throughout the review,” Vixens and Netball Victoria CEO Rosie King said.

“We are also disappointed that other options initially presented by the league – such as to delay the game for 24 hours to enable the entire team to travel, or to relocate the game to South Australia or Queensland – were not explored or supported, nor was the league’s ‘Covid-19 decision making process’ enacted which would have provided a framework for teams to follow in such circumstances.

“We understand, however, that the environment in which everyone was working in was extraordinarily difficult with the clock ticking and decisions being made under pressure-cooker conditions.

“The wellbeing and safety of our athletes and staff will always be our priority.

“We hope that the league’s protocols are likewise reviewed as part of a continual improvement exercise.”

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said while Covid-19 had presented “unique challenges” for the Super Netball competition and that the Vixens had not deliberately attempted to “disrupt the competition”, rule breaches would not be tolerated.

“Netball Australia recognises that clearer processes and protocols are required for the 2022 Super Netball season,” Ryan added.

Originally published as Vixens punished for their refusal to travel to Perth to play the Fever




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Rollercoaster session for ASX, fails to hold onto post-Reserve Bank of Australia meeting rally



The ASX surged after the RBA flagged keeping the cash rate at its historic low for another two years, but couldn’t hold onto the gains.

The Australian sharemarket slumped lower despite positive overseas leads and after failing to hold onto its post Reserve Bank of Australia meeting rally.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 0.63 per cent lower at 7324.3, while the All Ordinaries Index erased 0.59 per cent to 7646.6.

Ord Minnett said US stocks rose overnight in generally lacklustre trade, as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, while European stocks hit record highs as expectations of interest rate hikes supported bank stocks.

CommSec analyst Steven Daghlian said the local bourse started out in the green but faded as investors traded tentatively awaiting the outcome of our own central bank’s monthly board meeting.

OMG chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said it had been a rollercoaster, with the ASX gaining ground after the RBA determined to keep the cash rate on hold, as expected, while noting higher than expected inflation.

“The Reserve did well to remain ambiguous on expectations, although we’re still looking at a 2023 interest rate hike instead of the previous 2024 forecast,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“Commodity prices were mixed, as was our resources sector.”

After iron ore prices slumped, Rio Tinto lost 2.54 per cent to $88.66, BHP dropped 2.34 per cent to $35.56, Fortescue shed 2.65 per cent to $13.95 and Champion Iron sank 7.22 per cent to $4.24.

Nickel miner IGO plunged 8.42 per cent to $8.92, while Whitehaven Coal plummeted 9.54 per cent to $2.37.

Origin Energy slid 1.95 per cent to $5.02, while Beach Energy dropped 3.93 per cent to $1.34 after announcing its managing director and chief executive Matt Kay had handed in his resignation to pursue other opportunities.

But battery minerals company Magnis Energy Technologies was a stellar performer, rocketing 18.48 per cent to 54.5 cents.

“Magnis released their annual report after market close yesterday and the market is starting to see some value in Magnis’ proposition,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“Despite operating at a loss without a finished product, they have $665m in binding offtake sales lined up for 2022.

“The patented battery technology is gaining traction in the US market, where a new battery plant is being built in New York to meet demand.

“Magnis has already returned 280 per cent in share price this year, but will be one to watch especially closely into 2022 when battery production begins to ramp up.”

Insurance providers retreated after Insurance Australia Group downgraded its full-year guidance, upping its assumptions for hail and severe storm impacts in South Australia and Victoria last month to $1.045bn, from $765m previously.

“Cost allowances for natural perils have been lifted significantly after the first quarter came in more expensive than expected,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“Margin guidance for the period has slipped a full 3 per cent and they’re allowing room for extreme weather events to continue into next year.

“IAG is maintaining strong underlying performance as reported in its end of year results. However, if the first quarter is anything to go by, it will be an expensive year for insurance providers.”

IAG shares tumbled 7.03 per cent to $4.50, while Suncorp gave up 4.15 per cent to $11.31 and QBE softened 2.39 per cent to $11.83.

Financial technology platform provider Praemium Ltd leapt 14.46 per cent to $1.42 after knocking back Netwealth Group’s $785m takeover offer, saying the bid did not appropriately value its current performance and near-term trajectory.

Wealth manager Netwealth gave up 2.06 per cent to $17.15.

ANZ fell 1.1 per cent to $27.84, Commonwealth Bank backtracked 0.5 per cent to $105.76, National Australia Bank declined 0.88 per cent to $28.20 and Westpac slumped 2.73 per cent to $23.13 a day after releasing disappointing full-year results.

However, Morningstar equity analyst Nathan Zaia said Westpac could fix its productivity issues, noting it was the cheapest of the major banks.

Property stocks fared well, with Goodman Group surging 5.57 per cent to $23.49 after upgrading its full-year guidance, while Charter Hall Group rose 3.28 per cent to $18.59 after doing the same on Monday, while Lendlease added 2.39 per cent to $10.70.

Mr Daghlian said Goodman, the largest industrial property group on the ASX, which operates in 17 countries, was pocketing higher earnings partly because of demand for warehouses had surged during the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom.

Meal kit delivery service Marley Spoon continued to tumble after downgrading its full-year guidance last week, sinking 11.9 per cent to 92.5 cents.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 74.76 US cents, 54.76 British pence and 64.4 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

Originally published as Rollercoaster session for ASX, fails to hold onto post-Reserve Bank of Australia meeting rally




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Kane Cornes blasts North Melbourne’s AFL rookie list management tactic, Jared Polec delisting, Kangaroos



Kane Cornes has unleashed on the Kangaroos, who have become the latest club to delist a player and redraft him to the rookie list.

Port Adelaide legend Kane Cornes has accused North Melbourne of exploiting the draft system by revealing plans to delist midfielder Jared Polec, only to select him in the rookie draft.

The move, announced on Friday, will allow the Kangaroos to clear space on their list for another selection at the national draft later this month.

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“We’ve obviously got a couple of premium selections at the top end of the draft, but having more picks after that provides a great opportunity to bring in some talented players who lacked exposure over the past two Covid-affected seasons,” explained North Melbourne’s general manager of football Brady Rawlings.

“Once we get past the national draft, we’ll call Jared’s name out in the rookie draft.

“Jared’s co-operation with this list option has been appreciated and will not affect his opportunities at AFL level in any way.”

The rookie list was introduced in 1997, primarily with the aim of encouraging clubs to recruit young players who had developed through non-standard pathways.

Polec, 29, is anything but a rookie, having played eight seasons at senior level before being recruited by North Melbourne on big money in 2019.

“At the time I said it was an irresponsible offer from North Melbourne (for Polec),” Cornes said on SEN.

“It was a ridiculous offer for a player that has talent but had some issues with his body, I just cannot believe a club could make that error.

“Polec’s first season was OK, his second season not so good and then this year he didn’t play and they’ve delisted him with the commitment to re-rookie him.”

While there is no rule against drafting mature-age rookies, Cornes questioned whether North Melbourne had acted in the spirit of the rookie draft.

“How can it be allowed that they can put him (on the rookie list)? It needs to be designed for rookies that maybe have been overlooked in the draft,” he said.

“It’s a joke, there’s so many examples of (this happening).”

Cornes said North Melbourne had a history of bungling its list management.

The club drew widespread criticism in 2016 for delisting club legend and VFL/AFL games record-holder Brent Harvey.

“They made some errors in how they handled the delisting of one of their greatest ever players in Brent Harvey and then they went and (delisted and re-rookied Polec),” Cornes said.

The Kangaroos hold picks 1, 20, 42, 47, 72 and 77 at the national draft and look likely to select South Australian product Jason Horne-Francis with their first pick.

Originally published as ‘It’s a joke’: Kane Cornes blasts North Melbourne’s decision to delist Jared Polec and select him in rookie draft




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WA Premier Mark McGowan labels Covid-19 anti-vaxxers ‘wacky, nutty and dangerous’



A Premier who has copped threats from Covid-19 anti-vaxxers has launched a spray against them, telling them to ‘act like normal, rational human beings’.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has blasted Covid-19 anti-vaxxers, labelling them “wacky, nutty and dangerous” as he urged them to “act like normal, rational human beings” and get the jab.

Mr McGowan, who has copped abuse and threats from anti-vaxxers after mandating the vaccine for certain industries, said their behaviour only served to harden the state government’s resolve.

“We’re more determined to put in place measures to get people vaccinated,” he told reporters on Sunday.

More than 1000 people gathered at Elizabeth Quay in the CBD for a protest against the Covid-19 jab on Saturday.

Asked if he was concerned about anti-vaccine sentiment growing, Mr McGowan said: “It’s concerning. I just urge these people to go and get vaccinated … the time for protesting and reading crazy conspiracy theorists online is over.”

Mr McGowan said he actually believed the campaign had recently died down despite the rally.

“But some of the material they’re spreading is extreme, misleading and frankly lies,” he said.

The Premier said they should “get on with life, like everyone else”.

“They are reading wacky theories online that are untrue,” he said.

“This rubbish that’s put out online and some of the lies and misleading information … is dangerous.

“I just urge them to stop, go and get vaccinated and just act like normal, rational human beings.”

Protesters are reportedly planning another rally on Monday in the city.

Meanwhile, the Premier announced booster shots would be available in WA from Monday, with no requirement to book an appointment.

On Thursday, the federal government announced the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations had recommended booster jabs for adults after the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the program would officially begin on November 8, but Mr McGowan said any WA adult who had received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago could go to a state clinic from Monday for their third jab.

“The medical advice is irrespective of what vaccine you had first, the booster vaccine is now the Pfizer vaccine,” Mr McGowan said.

“I just urge anyone in that position please go and get your booster vaccine and obviously as time goes by, more and more people will become eligible as they hit the six-month period from their second dose.”

On Saturday, it was announced that any travellers to WA from medium, high and extreme risk jurisdictions must be double vaccinated from November 5.

Mr McGowan said on Sunday that it would currently include people from NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

“Queensland is dropping its border shortly to NSW and Victoria, so is South Australia and Tasmania,” he said.

“We expect that they’ll get community spread of the virus, probably before Christmas.

“So that will mean that we can put in place the requirement for double dose vaccination once they get community spread of the virus, based upon health advice.

“We haven’t got the advice as yet, and we also need to take account of the lawyers’ advice, but obviously as it spreads in those states that will provide that opportunity.”

Despite the number of cases in NSW falling, Mr McGowan said he was not yet prepared to ease border restrictions.

“They’re about to open international borders without any requirement for quarantine and we just have to monitor that,” he said.

“There could be further spread of the virus, or you could have people then say, ‘I want to go to NSW and leave the country, come back into NSW and then just come home’ who are Covid-positive.

“I just want us to get through this period and get to very high levels of vaccinations before such time as we run the risk of people coming from NSW, Victoria or indeed overseas, who would spread the virus here.”

Originally published as WA Premier labels Covid-19 anti-vaxxers ‘wacky, nutty and dangerous’




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Coronavirus NSW: Booster shots to be rolled out across NSW clinics



Covid-19 booster shots will be rolled out across NSW Health state-run clinics from November 1, health authorities have confirmed.

NSW clinics will start rolling out booster shots to people aged 18 and over from next week, health authorities have revealed.

The Pfizer vaccine will be offered as the booster dose at state-run clinics, regardless of which brand was administered for the first or second shot.

A NSW Health spokeswoman said people aged 18 and over may receive a booster at least six months after receiving their second dose of any of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“Booster doses will be available throughout the NSW Health vaccination clinic network, including the mass vaccination hubs at Sydney Olympic Park, Macquarie Fields in southwest Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle,” the spokeswoman said.

“This booster shot will help people maintain a high level of protection against the COVID-19 virus, including the Delta variant.”

Booster shots can be booked through the Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder.

The announcement comes as one death and another 177 new locally-acquired cases were recorded overnight.

From Monday, fully vaccinated Australians returning to NSW from overseas will not need to quarantine.

NSW Health clinics are already providing a third vaccine dose to people aged 12 and older who are “severely immunocompromised”.

“This third dose is part of their primary course as it helps to build an immune response similar to people who are not immunosuppressed,” the NSW Health spokeswoman said.

Originally published as Covid booster shots to be rolled out across NSW Health clinics from Monday




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Vic storms: 110,000 without power a day after storm hits state



Shocking footage has emerged after a storm smashed Victoria, with about 110,000 properties across the state still without electricity.

More than 100,000 Victorians remain without power amid concern the electricity crisis could stretch into next week, after violent storms lashed the entire state on Friday.

Emergency crews responded to dozens of calls for help after torrential rains and severe winds knocked down trees and powerlines and tore apart buildings.

Wind gusts exceeded 110km per hour in some areas, with conditions leaving 518,000 Victorians without power for much of Friday.

Staggering footage uploaded to Tik Tok overnight showed multiple garage doors in a home complex in Melbourne near buckled from their hinges.

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Saturday said there was still around 110,000 properties across the state without electricity, due to the winds and heavy rainfall.

The energy operator predicted some homes would be without power for the rest of the weekend and potentially into early next week.

Melbourne’s outer east and northern suburbs along with eastern and northeastern Victoria remain the hardest hit, with more than 61,000 people without power.

Homes in the outer western suburbs, central and western Victorian as well as southeast Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula had more than 40,000 people without power on Saturday morning.

Hundreds in Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs remained affected, with around 5,000 in northwestern Melbourne also without electricity.

“Network crews have restored the power to more than 400,000 properties, enduring challenging weather conditions, falling trees and access issues to repair damaged power lines and critical energy infrastructure,” AEMO said.

“Victorians travelling this weekend should consider their plans to visit areas of significant storm damage, flooding and electricity outages.”

The havoc comes after severe storms right across eastern and southern Australia over Thursday night and Friday morning, with homes across Adelaide and Sydney also affected.

Storms in Melbourne ripped roofs off houses, tore trees from the ground and flipped a truck over on a major Melbourne road.

Emergency services responded to dozens of calls for help, mostly to do with tree damage, trees falling down and building damage.

Temperatures are expected to improve in Melbourne in the coming days, with no severe weather warnings currently issued for the state.

But severe weather is expected to hit northern NSW and southern QLD over the next few days, with another severe weather system predicted to move through the northeastern states.

The bureau on Friday issued severe thunderstorm warnings, including damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain, for southern Queensland‘s Central West, Channel Country and Maranoa and Warrego districts.

The same warning was issued for much of northeast NSW, including North West Slopes and Plains and parts of Mid North Coast, Hunter and Northern Tablelands.

Storms will continue for northern New South Wales and southern Queensland before the trough bounces up into Queensland during Saturday, bringing the risk of storms to Brisbane.

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Originally published as 110,000 Victorians without power following violent storms




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Melbourne, Adelaide weather: Power outage, train delays after massive Victoria storm



Wild weather has lashed several states, bringing golf ball-sized hail, falling trees and winds that tore a large window from an apartment block.

Strong winds are believed to have torn a large window pane out of a Sydney apartment on Friday afternoon, following a morning of weather-induced havoc in Melbourne.

NSW Fire and Rescue was called about 4.30pm to the unit block on Sutherland St, Paddington where a window was dangling from one of the apartments.

Firefighters went up through the elevator and pulled it back into the apartment using ropes.

Winds reached up to 87km/h in Sydney’s south about 3.30pm and 78km/h on Sydney Harbour just after 6pm.

Sydneysiders sweltered through their warmest day since January, with the mercury climbing to 34.3 degrees at the airport – which was the hottest part of the city – by about 1pm.

Earlier, Victorians battened down the hatches, as strong winds of up to 110km/h – well over what is considered gale-force – swept across the state, ripping roofs off houses, tearing trees from the ground and even flipping a truck over on a major Melbourne road.

Footage captured the moment a roof was torn off a Port Melbourne apartment block and large chunks of styrofoam careened past someone’s window during the chaos.

Thousands of homes across Victoria and South Australia remain without power on Friday after severe wind, hail and heavy rain ripped through neighbourhoods, leaving a trail of destruction.

Melbourne residents woke to severe wind and rain, with motorists warned traffic lights were out across the city, while fallen trees were blocking roads and also the Glen Waverley train line.

Photos showed trees that had been uprooted during the extreme morning blast.

High winds began to ease late in the morning in Melbourne, but thousands of residents were still struggling with power outages.

There were at least 50,000 AusNet customers in Victoria’s east without power.

“And I thought there were only four horsemen of the apocalypse,” wrote Melbourne-based comedian and actor Magda Szubanski.

“This is getting scary. Take care people.”

In Melbourne, motorists have been told to drive with extreme caution.

V/Line, which operates regional passenger train and coach services, warned that, “due to extreme weather conditions across the state, train services will be held in place until tracks can be cleared from debris.

“Coaches have been deployed across the network to assist with travel. Additional information will be made available once confirmed.”

A number of Covid-19 vaccination sites have also been temporarily closed amid the wild weather.

The Bureau reported more than 500,000 lightning strikes have hit South Australia, Victoria and southern NSW over the past 24 hours, as a deep low pressure system moves towards Bass Strait.

Hobart copped 40mm overnight and several areas of Tasmania are on floodwatch.

Two teenagers had to be rescued near the central Tasmanian community of Campbell Town on Thursday night, with police and rescue services using a boat to free the girls trapped in flood waters from the Elizabeth River.

Elsewhere, a huge damage bill is expected for Adelaide and surrounding regions after golf ball-sized hail pelted the suburbs on Thursday, and severe wind triggered thousands of calls for assistance to the State Emergency Service.

The weather was so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology Adelaide office had to be evacuated.

Many South Australian homes remained without power on Friday morning, with authorities working to clear trees that fell overnight.

“Batten down the hatches. I have thousands of dollars’ damage to my house and a couple of cars with damage, including my poor son’s, which is probably a write off,” wrote Penny Artis on Facebook.

That intense system has moved east, and on Friday morning was bearing down on Victoria, bringing torrential rain, damaging wind, and cutting power to thousands of homes.

The state’s west and northwest appeared to be particularly affected by outages.

“It was spectacular last night, watching the light show, which went on for hours and hours,” wrote Caroline Jane Knight.

“But it was so loud, all night, I’ve hardly slept at all. No power this morning, the wind storm is still going.

“Just went out to find a coffee and half the roads are blocked by fallen branches, we’ve gone miles to get to a coffee shop with power.”

Gusts of 143km/h were reported at Mount William in the Grampians National Park – nearly double what is considered “gale force” – while a severe weather warning was active for the western and central Victorian coasts, Greater Melbourne, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the danger was likely to shift towards northern NSW and Queensland this afternoon.

“It’s about Victoria and Tassie this morning, but things are already shifting,” said senior meteorologist Jonathan How.

Mr How said the steamy temperatures experienced across northeast NSW and southern Queensland of up to 36 degrees would be hosed down by a potential supercell thunderstorm on Friday afternoon.

“There’s also the possibility of tornadoes; we can’t rule that out,” Mr How said.

The system will linger over Brisbane and the Gold Coast into Saturday before easing on Sunday.

Originally published as Wild winds rip window from apartment in Sydney after a morning of havoc in Melbourne





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Sheffield Shield: Marnus Labuschagne made another half-century for Queensland as a new spin hero emerged



 The Australian Test top order is back in the runs at home and abroad and even those vying for a spot are racking up big scores.

It’s all starting to come together for the Australian top order ahead of the Ashes and Marnus Labuschagne is only just warming up.

The run-hungry Test star showed all his next-level credentials in a stunning second innings score of 60 against Tasmania as an entree to a summer of potentially feasting on English bowlers.

After Queensland spinner Matt Kuhnemann showed the cupboard is not completely bare behind Nathan Lyon with a maiden five-wicket haul to rout the Tigers in Townsville, Labuschagne, who made 136 in the first innings, took things up a notch.

In the search for quick runs, despite having a 302-run first innings lead, Labuschagne went in to T20 mode, smashing three sixes in a 37-ball 50. Labuschagne reached 60 not out, off 46 balls, with former Test opener Joe Burns unbeaten on 46, when Queensland captain Usman Khawaja declared with his team 438-runs in front.

The Bulls didn’t, however, have things their own way as the Tigers dug in for the fight, and only a late wicket hit a blistering start to their chase. Tasmania was 1-127 at stumps, with 311 runs to get in 96 over their final day target.

With test opener David Warner back in form at the T20 World Cup, potential opening partners Khawaja and Marcus Harris both making runs, and Cameron Green also scoring a half-century for WA, Australian selectors might be smiling.

After his day one run haul, Labuschagne said he wanted more.

“I’m always asking myself ways to get better, 130s are a good score and you’re not complaining about that but you want to make it into a big 180-plus score,” he said.

“They’re the sort of knocks that really put your team on the front foot (and) I certainly want to be making big scores.

“Obviously I missed out the first two games with a really big score, but I was able to spend some time (in the middle) and really found some rhythm out there.

“As a cricketer I don’t think anyone is really satisfied ever, it’s just one of those games.”

Kuhnemann‘s career-best figures of 5-60 to roll Tassie for 182 highlighted Queensland’s bowling depth as he took over from absent Mitchell Swepson, who took 32 Shield wickets last summer.

The Bulls were also without leading quicks Michael Neser and Mark Steketee but still had enough to take out a Tasmanian team coming off a last-start Shield win against Western Australia.

The Tigers fell apart after the early day three dismissal of topscorer Jordan Silk, losing 6-27 with three of those wickets going to Kuhnemann.

Fast bowler Gurinder Sandhu, playing his first Shield game for Queensland after stints with NSW and Tasmania, finished with figures of 3-44 in another promising showing.

UZZIE SHOWS ASHES HAND

Usman Khawaja may not be thinking about an international recall but Australian selectors might be after the Queensland skipper scored a second straight Sheffield Shield century to stake a solid Ashes claim.

The 34-year-old raced to the top of the Sheffield Shield run-scoring list as the Bulls batsman achieved a 20-year first with Matthew Renshaw also knocking out a hundred against Tasmania in Townsville.

It was the first time since 2006 that the number three, four and five batters for a team all scored centuries in a Shield game, coming after Test star Marnus Labuschagne made 136 on the opening day.

After scoring an epic 174 in his last Shield innings against South Australia, Khawaja, who played the last of his 44 Tests during the 2019 Ashes, said he refused to worry about selection any more. But he also declared he would bat anywhere if asked.

“People are always going to ask me about Test cricket, that’s fair enough, there is an Ashes coming up,” Khawaja said.

“But it’s not even in the forefront, I am just trying to win games for Queensland.”

His team was on the path to doing that, with Tasmania 4-150 at stumps, hoping a rearguard action from Jordan Silk (45 not out) and captain Beau Webster (20 not out) could keep them in the game.

Khawaja remained the standout performer and with Test opener David Warner’s first-choice batting partner Will Pucovski yet to pad up this season and Marcus Harris out for just nine in his first innings for Victoria, Khawaja has been put in the conversation as an experienced hand for the Ashes.

But a middle-order slot could also be up for grabs with the number five and six spots set to be filled by all-rounder cameron Green and a yet to be confirmed batsman.

Matthew Wade filled the role last summer against India, but was overlooked for the squad picked to tour South Africa, a tour which never happened.

Travis Head was recalled for that tour, but never got to strut his stuff and the South Australian has also reeled off a one-day double-hundred and a Shield innings of 163 this season to position himself for an Ashes berth.

But Khawaja’s output should ensure his name is in that Ashes conversation. Former national selector Mark Waugh said recently Khawaja had to be in the mix for a Test recall against England because of his experience.

He started the second day of the Sheffield Shield clash in Townsville not out on 63 and brought up his hundred off 165 balls after nearly being run out on 95.

He was eventually dismissed for 119 before lunch, going for quick runs with former Test opener Renshaw taking over, making 120 not out off just 167 balls before Queensland declared a 6-487.

After making an opening-day century of his own, Bulls and Test star Marnus Labuschagne said both Khawaja and Joe Burns, who made 79, were batting “beautifully”.

“Both those guys are probably two of my favourite guys to bat with. Both very different, but both very enjoyable to bat with,” Labuschagne said.

“I think they’re both batting beautifully. I thought Joe’s first innings last week in Adelaide was a very good innings.

“With Uzzie’s innings in the second innings of that game it was very good and he’s backed it up. He really put pressure on the spinners and didn’t let them settle, which is really good for a number four to be able to come in and do that straight away.”

RACE FOR THE ASHES

Usman Khawaja (Queensland) – 326 Sheffield Shield runs (4 innings), 2 x 100s, 12 one-day runs (1 innings) HS 12

Travis Head (South Australia) – 250 Sheffield Shield runs (4 innings) , 1 x 100; 277 one-day runs (3 innings), HS 230

Originally published as Sheffield Shield: Marnus Labuschagne made another half-century for Queensland as a new spin hero emerged




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SA: Covid Care Centres at Royal Adelaide Hospital as state braces for cases



One state is preparing for infections once its borders open, setting up centres to try to keep cases from being hospitalised.

South Australia is preparing for Covid-19 cases once its borders reopen in less than four weeks by creating Covid Care Centres where infected people can get medical attention and avoid hospitalisation.

Premier Steven Marshall announced on Thursday the state would be the first in the nation to establish the dedicated centres that would give positive patients specialist services if required.

He said about 85 per cent of people who caught the virus would be cared for in their own home and use the home quarantine app that had daily symptom checks.

If they required further medical assistance, a rapid response care team — led by nurses — would be able to refer them directly to a hospital or Covid Care Centre to be treated.

The first centre will be established at the Royal Adelaide Hospital next to the emergency department, estimated to cost about $5.5m.

Further announcements will be made in coming weeks about others popping up across the state.

Mr Marshall said the investment was included in the state’s $123m package aimed to prepare its healthcare system before the borders open.

“We announced our road map to lifting those border restrictions … now we’re rolling out all the necessary steps to make sure we are Covid-ready in South Australia,” he said.

SA Health deputy chief public health officer Emily Kirkpatrick said lessons learnt from NSW and Victoria showed the majority of Covid positive patients could be managed at home with appropriate supports.

But she said the centres would allow for newer treatments to be delivered, like IV antibody infusion treatments, chest X-rays and other forms of intervention, which would reduce the likelihood of patients being admitted to hospital or an intensive care unit.

“Our initial modelling suggests we would have a capacity of around 50 patients a day across the state … (but) we are not expecting huge numbers at the beginning,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

“We are seeing this as an opportunity for people to remain in their homes and receive appropriate care with those escalation pathways so people go to the most appropriate place.”

It was announced earlier this week that SA will open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from November 23, once 80 per cent of its eligible population is fully vaccinated.

Restrictions are set to ease further once 90 per cent is double jabbed.

Originally published as South Australia braces for potential virus surge with Covid Care Centres to keep cases out of hospital




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‘Secret’ modelling underpinning Scott Morrison’s net zero policy still in spreadsheet form



Scott Morrison has been under fire for not releasing the modelling underpinning his major net zero commitment, but there’s a good reason why.

The modelling underpinning Scott Morrison’s strategy for a carbon neutral future cannot be published because the department tasked with the job has yet to finish the report.

The Prime Minister has been under pressure to release the modelling that shaped the net zero commitment he is set to take to a UN climate summit in Glasgow next week.

But officials from the Department of Science, Industry, Energy and Resources (DSIER) on Thursday revealed the report had not been finalised and work continued while Mr Morrison’s plan was deliberated in cabinet on Monday evening.

“We will make that material public within the next few weeks, and indeed, I can confirm that we are finalising the writing up of that work,” Deputy secretary Jo Evans told a Senate estimates hearing.

“You can appreciate that it’s quite a complex set of material, and as the plan was only finalised on Tuesday, we need to make sure we have written that technical work up.

“The actual modelling of course had been finalised at that point, but the write up of it, we just need to take a little bit of extra time.”

Ms Evans stressed the modelling work had been completed and the report needed additional time to ensure it was accessible to the public.

“We will publish it when we put it into a form that is suitable for putting to the public domain so that it’s understandable,” she said.

Asked what format the work was currently in, Ms Evans said: “Spreadsheets and finalised and technical reports that are designed for an audience that is more sophisticated in terms of how it will understand results.”

DSIER insisted the modelling would be released in the coming weeks in line with the promises made by Mr Morrison earlier in the week.

Asked about Ms Evans’ comments in question time, Mr Morrison stuck to his “technology, not taxes” lines.

“That document will be released in the next few weeks and it will be there, and they will be able to see it and they will be able to see that what it does through the plan that we are putting in place with technology, not taxes, with respecting people’s choices,” he said.

The nation’s chief economic forecasters on Wednesday told estimates they had provided limited advice on the impact of a net zero target but two staff had been seconded to DSIER to assist with its modelling.

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy also conceded his department hadn’t undertaken any modelling on the economic costs of climate change in the “last few years”.

“I don’t know whether it is eight years – but we haven’t done it at least for the last few years,” he said.

Under Mr Morrison’s plan to reach net zero, more than $20bnwill be invested in low emissions technologies, including carbon capture and storage.

Mr Morrison also unveiled new projections, which if reached, could reduce Australia’s emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030.

Originally published as ‘Secret’ modelling underpinning Scott Morrison’s net zero policy still in spreadsheet form

Read related topics:Mission ZeroScott Morrison




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