South Australia today begins a strict six-day “circuit breaker” lockdown, as health authorities race to contain the state’s first Covid-19 outbreak in months. The statewide lockdown forbids residents from leaving their homes even to exercise, with one person per household allowed to purchase essential supplies or attend medical services, provided they wear a mask. Exemptions are allowed for essential workers. Schools and most shops will close, including restaurants and cafes, which will not be permitted to serve takeaway food. The state recorded two new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the so-called Parafield cluster up to 23 confirmed cases on Wednesday. There are a further seven suspected cases, and SA Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier expressed particular concern regarding potential spread from an infected worker at Adelaide’s Woodville Pizza Bar. The lockdown, imposed by South Australia’s Liberal government, has thus far received a more positive reception from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the News Corp media than the shutdown of Melbourne by Victorian Labor Premier Dan Andrews. The Australian today ran with the headline “Emergency lockdown to avert months of pain”.
The Afghan government has called for Australian authorities to formally apologise to the families of victims of alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, ahead of the released of a redacted version of a major inquiry into the issue. The report is set to detail 55 incidents or issues linked to by SAS soldiers operating in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016. Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, told SBS Pashto that Australia should be commended for launching the investigation. “Whoever admits a criminal act [shows] moral courage,” he said. “If the investigation finds that because of such crimes, particular [Afghan] families are affected, saying sorry to them is another [act of] moral courage, and it is also a good thing to do under human rights [laws].”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office complied with legally imposed deadlines in 7.5 per cent of freedom of information requests made in 2019, according to data from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The office of Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, met the deadline in just 17 per cent of cases, Guardian Australia reports. Complaints about the handling of FOI requests were up by 79 per cent in a single year, while the overall number of requests processed within the lawful time frame fell to 79 per cent last financial year.
Queensland has upset New South Wales 20-14 to clinch rugby league’s State of Origin shield in front of a home crowd of 49,155 at Suncorp Stadium, billed as the largest attendance at a sporting encounter since the pandemic began. First half tries to Valentine Holmes and Edrick Lee, either side of an opportunistic score from New South Wales skipper James Tedesco, who was later knocked out, gave the Maroons a half-time lead. The home side managed to hang on for victory despite losing players of their own, ending the match with just 12 men.