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Supplies Dropped at Coober Pedy, Emergency Measures Taken, as South Australia Expected to Receive More Rains

With rail and road both disrupted by the heavy rains in the state of South Australia, the Defense Force responded by dropping food supplies to tackle shortages. The aforementioned will deliver 20 tonnes of food and other essential supplies to the flood-affected areas.

Grocery shipment routes and supply chains have been broken due to the excessive rains in South Australia. The state received heavy rainfall and lots of flooding with major highways getting disrupted. Stretches as long as 250km were closed off a few days ago. To tackle the impending worsening of the floods, the Defense Force is set to deliver 20 tonnes of food and supplies to Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy is a town on the Stuart Highway and has been in the midst of a natural disaster. The nearest city being Adelaide and falling right into the middle of the floods, it was a natural choice for the shipments to arrive at. A C-27 Cargo Plane has left the airport and is set to deliver the items as soon as possible.

State Emergency Service (SES) chief officer Chris Beattie commented that the supplies include all kinds of essentials including chilled goods, frozen goods, fresh food, and fresh meat. Coober Pedy has been reeling under food shortage ever since the floods began. During normalcy, the town would receive three trucks full of food supplies every week.

The route to Coober Pady has been blocked by floodwaters at Glendambo, about 250km south of the aforementioned town. The blockage at the Stuart Highway still continues to persist, much to the dismay of the natives as well as those visiting from other states.

The highway connecting Adelaide and Darwin has been under flood pressure almost the entire month now, so to say. The situation is also predicted to worsen over the coming few days as well. The State Government is prepared to tackle the issue though. The Federal Emergency Management issued a statement commenting that the people of Coober Pedy and the other flood-affected areas won’t go without food.

Record Breaking Rains Shut Down Rail and Highway in South Australia

South Australia has received more rain than was predicted this summer. Flooding has damaged the outback railways to the extent that it might take more than 12 days to set everything ‘back on track’.

The outback railways primarily connecting SA to Perth and Darwin have been badly damaged by the heavy rains and rising waters all across the southern state. The series of events have forced logistics to be shifted to other means of transport. Even though the Stuart Highway is also closed due to the same reason, a majority of freight has to be moved via road now – taking detours.

The Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin is closed and drivers have to take diversions and go via Queensland. The economic and operational losses incurred due to this once in a lifetime weather event is pretty shocking as well. The degree can only be imagined once we realize that rail makes up 80% of the total logistics in the region.

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) said that repairs on the affected railway lines connecting SA to WA and the Northern Territories could take somewhere between 12 to 17 days. Around 8 areas between Adelaide and Tarcoola are closed off due to the excessive rains.

Record-breaking rainfall in South Australia over the weekend has also forced the Stuart Highway to be closed for a while now as a 250 km-long stretch is inaccessible. Although floodwaters are now receding, there is still time before normal services are resumed.

The Eyre Highway is open though and has taken off some of the freight load. Although delays and cancellations in supply are reported, everything is still manageable. Diversions through Queensland are the way out for the moment.

Glendambo BP’s manager, Richard Patridge, mentioned a few days ago that more than 30 of his trucks are stranded due to the ‘swamp’. He mentioned that most of the goods were FMCG or fast-moving consumer goods such as perishable food items and dairy products. Councils for Logistics and Transport in the flood-affected areas have also demanded commercial relief from the national government.

Concession Card Holders Cannot Get Free RATs For Now Albeit National Cabinet Plans

The wait for free rapid antigen tests for Queensland’s concession card holder has been extended. Although a national cabinet plans to start the free RATs from today, a lack of supply to local pharmacies may be an issue. Officials from pharmacies say that the out-of-stock status is still pretty much existent.

Most pharmacies in Queensland are still struggling to get their shelves filled with RATs. Although the concession card holders will be getting free tests that was planned to start from today, the chances that a card holder would get a test today is bleak.

Under the national cabinet’s scheme, certain individuals can avail 10 free RATs for a span of three months. Also, they can get 5 RATs in a single month as well. People who are covered under this scheme are concession card holders, senior healthcare card holders, DVA gold, orange and white card holders, as well as low income card holders. Health care card holders also benefit from this scheme.

The cost incurred to the pharmacies will be reimbursed. The state governments as well as the Commonwealth will share the expenses 50/50. A statement by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison at the beginning of January saying that free RATs will be easily available from the 24th still resounds in the ears of the card holders.

Chris Owen, the president of the Queensland branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, says that people should check social media for any upcoming updates regarding the availability of the tests. He further mentioned that pharmacies are struggling under the dearth and are facing multiple goliaths at a single time – lack of supply, staff shortages, and more.

The blame game is interesting to watch as well with the PM pointing the finger at Commonwealth for not supplying adequate RATs to pharmacies. He said that the state clinics should be sufficient for the masses. Pharmacies are not the first place to go for a rapid antigen test.

Supply for RATs are looking to improve over the coming two weeks. Chris Owen, lastly stated that his own business is out of RAT stock since the 28th of December.

Perth’s and WA’s Borders Won’t Reopen on 5th February – Controversial Decision by Premier Mark McGowan

Initially supposed to have opened its doors to international as well as domestic travel routes completely on the 5th of February, WA Premier Mark McGowan has turned back his decision and postponed the relaxation of border rules. Although changes are due to happen in the guidelines, many families and businesses have their plans disrupted by the decision.

The decision by the Premier came in at a time when families were expecting to see a relaxation in the guidelines. The expectations to get back to normal life have been ripped apart for some. People are stuck in the state and cannot travel back home although they have followed all protocols and complied with the authorities.

The decision is, however, welcomed by the labor leaders and their parties. The Premier does not want an outbreak similar to the NSW and Victoria Omicron saga. West Australia has been relatively under lesser stress as compared to the two aforementioned states. The Premier hopes to keep it that way. He wants a larger percentage of the WA population to be vaccinated before he reopens the borders completely.

As is the case with any controversial decision, the pros and cons are always there. Small businesses, no doubt, are facing a tougher time under the guidelines. Supply chains, although not broken, are delayed or disrupted. Also, isolation rules have kept many essential staff members out of work.

Although the time for quarantine for international flights will be reduced to just a week, interstate travellers coming into WA need to do a 14-day sprint as before. Further relaxations in the guidelines are also due. Most of these changes are planned to keep health workers and essential staff members across various industries in mind.

The general mood across WA and families whose relatives are stuck here is not good though. They are questioning Mark McGowan’s decision and cannot comprehend all the reasons behind the alleged ‘political’ move by the Premier. “I don’t know what has happened to our Australian way of life”, a distressed mother of one from Tasmania whose husband is stuck in WA comments.

40,000+ Rapid Antigen Tests Stolen at Sydney Storage Depot as Australia Struggles With Vaccine Shortages

Around 42,000 RATs worth more than 500,000 AUD were reported to be stolen from a depot in Sydney last afternoon. As the country struggles under a general shortage of RATs and rising vaccine prices, this couldn’t have hit the state at a worse time, we suppose.

A man was reported to have entered the storage unit at Mascot and stolen the RATs. The police are, of course, on to it. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said that the culprit’s actions were disgraceful and he should be expecting a call from the police soon. He mentioned that such an action amidst the united struggle of the country to beat the Omicron variant is indeed shameful.

High rates are also hitting the consumers hard. ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) Chair, Rod Sims has said that there are some reports of two tests being sold over online stores and marketplaces at 500 AUD. Some retail stores have also sold a single RAT at 70 AUD. All this, keeping in mind that the wholesale price falls around 11 AUD. Average retailers’ selling prices is ranging from 20-30 AUD.

In such an economic climate and shortage, missing 42,000 RAT is a blow for NSW as well as the rest of Australia.

South Australia Premier Reports RAT Foul Play

SA’s Premier Steven Marshall is concerned that other states such as NSW and Victoria are taking precedence over other states when it comes to rapid antigen testing. He has intimidated the ACCC to look into the matter.

The Premier wants the ACCC to investigate whether RATs bound for SA were requisitioned for Victoria and NSW. Amidst allegations that the aforementioned is true, the Premier said that it is the state’s right to be outraged if the rumour turns out to be true.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia SA branch president Nick Panayiaris has said that there are reports, not necessarily true, that RATs were being stripped off the SA’s retail shelves and shipped to other states.

Although authorities await the statements from NSW and Victoria, the whole matter is deeply disturbing. The thing that keeps economies afloat during the pandemic or otherwise is the supply chain. Voluntary disruption of any sort during a global crisis is indeed shameful.

Novak Djokovic Can Visit Australia Before 3 Years ‘Under Right Circumstances’

A week-long legal battle unfolded in front of us as Novak Djokovic fought to play in the Australian Open but his visa was cancelled. Anti-vax protests ensued after the 9-time winner was banned from entering the country on landing.

Although the decision has been made that Novak Djokovic, a 9-time Grand Slam winner will not be allowed in Australia for three years, Prime Minister, Scott Minister, said that the sportsman can be granted access if it serves the country’s interests. The PM also downplayed anti-vax sentiments that ensued as a direct result of the sportsman’s ban.

PM Scott Morrison also said that rules are meant to be adhered to and no exceptions can be made for anyone. The country has no ill feelings for Djokovic and ‘under the right circumstances’, Djokovic may be allowed access.

Djokovic’s visa was cancelled after a week-long ordeal at the Federal Court. The Minister for Home Affairs commented that the return of Djokovic to Australia before the 3-year ban is purely speculative. All of these assumptions also rest on the fact that Djokovic actually makes a personal decision of returning to the country. The sportsperson may choose not to participate in the Australian Open after the experience.

The Australian Open begins today – without Djokovic. Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews also commented that reasons to reduce the ban period can be influenced by ‘compelling situations’. Of course, any further applications by Novak will be processed according to the rules. It is all hypothetical as of now.

Novak Djokovic returned to Dubai as soon as the judgment to cancel his visa was made. A recent Instagram post by the sportsman suggested that Djokovic was under the impression that he was exempted from the Australian border rules. He was not vaccinated.

The Australian Government has been facing a lot of criticism on a global scale. Fingers are being pointed and comments have come forth saying that a visa should not have been granted to Djokovic in the first place.

All in all, the defending champion will not participate in the opening major tennis tournament of the year. Let’s see what 2023 brings for the champion.

SA-WA Logistics Route Blocked – Truck Caught Fire Eyre Highway

A truck carrying chemicals caught fire on the Eyre Highway that connects the states of South Australia and Western Australia. The driver of the truck was quick to react and escaped without any injuries.

The truck carrying cyanide-based chemicals caught on fire at around 4 AM on January 14th. Fireys and police were called at Coorabie. Although we are unclear of the exact location of the accident, the fire was reported from somewhere around 100 kilometres west of Ceduna. The CFS (Country Fire Service) were quick to respond to the situation. Two CFS trucks reported to the situation at hand.

The driver of the truck had the presence of mind to detach one of the trailers to minimize the damage as well. Due to a large amount of hazardous spills and putrid smell, the highway had been closed off for a while. The toxic smell and fumes suggest that the chemicals in the truck are cyanide based.

Eyre Highway remained closed 11:22 AM (GMT+10:30) but is now open

The major throughway between SA and WA had been closed in both directions causing delays and mix ups all around for around 6-7 hours. At 11:22 AM, the SA police tweeted that one of the lanes was open for business again.

At around 6:50 AM, the SA police officially warned the public about the closure on the major highway. The Eyre Highway is an important logistical route for FMCGs and raw materials. The freight route is a 1660 kilometre long stretch and links the two states of SA and WA and also forms a part of the national highway network connecting Perth and Adelaide.

This was not the only accident on the throughway though. Another truck, this time not carrying any toxic materials, crashed into a tree. This happened around 6 AM in Miranda. The driver was seriously injured and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

The cyanide spillage disrupted routes on the highway for a while and caused a few issues but the situation is now under control and the highway has opened up.

E-Trains in Western Australia? Mining Veterans Propose Sustainable Transport

Mining company Rio Tinto wants to introduce battery-powered trains that are charged with solar energy. The company says that a move in such a direction can cut harmful emissions to half the current value, especially in WA’s Pilbara.

Currently, Rio Tinto is proposing trials on its trains after which they plan to convert their entire fleet of around 220 trains to solar-powered. In this trial, four different locomotives manufactured in the USA will be tested out for running through the dry and vast Pilbara. In an attempt to go for a sustainable option and to save compounded costs in the future, Rio Tinto wants this move to bolster the company’s expected carbon emission targets.

Managing Director of Port, Rail, and Core Services, Richard Cohen mentioned that the trials are of utmost importance and will help the company with its targets in years to come. By the year 2030, Rio Tinto aims to remove any diesel locomotives from its arsenal. The company’s iron mining setup in the Pilbara contributes to a large chunk of harmful carbon emissions every year. A switch from diesel to solar would mean that this number gets slashed by 30%.

Saving the environment one step at a time

Rio Tinto is in the process of building a massive renewable source near its operations in the Pilbara. If the project goes well, the next step is to add the system to trains and logistics. “50% reduction in emissions is the dream”.

Although the electric-powered trains won’t be as powerful as their diesel counterparts, the four trains under trial would be a good place to begin to understand the future possibilities and challenges.

Dry and massive Pilbara is an ideal spot for a solar-powered setup. WA receives plenty of sunlight and using this natural advantage can prove to be a boon for Rio Tinto as well as Australia’s heavy industry.

Solar-powered vehicles and solutions, in general, are winning the battles against hydrogen-based batteries as of now. Experts suggest that a solar alternative can pave the way for rapid future development. Going solar is also getting more and more affordable as time goes on.

COVID-19 Vaccinations For Children To Start From Today – Australia Braces For Mass Drive

Children between 5 to 11 years are set to be vaccinated, starting today. At least 92% of the country’s adult population is fully vaccinated and it is time to roll out the vaccines for children as well. Local GPs and pharmacies are both scheduled to carry most of the responsibility for the impending job. 

Children are more immune, in general, to the pandemic but they can still act as carriers and can thus pose a threat to family members, mostly the elderly. It is absolutely necessary to get the children vaccinated now for two glaring reasons. Firstly, avoiding the disease, albeit not as severe, but still a concern, is an obvious reason. Also, children have been missing out on offline schools for some time now. It is important to send the children back to schools so that their education is carried on in a proper manner.

Dr Clark, a specialist in treating children infected by the virus, mentioned the aforementioned points and further added that the little one can be a giant threat to their family members as carriers. The concerned authorities have reported that the children will be administered with Pfizer-manufactured vaccines.

Parents Facing Issues Booking For a Vaccine

Naturally, parents are shuffling to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible. However, some have reported issues and problems with booking a slot. The biggest reason behind this mismanagement is that local GPs and pharmacies are not clear about the initial supplies.

Queensland’s Health Minister has mentioned that the body responsible for administration is the commonwealth. Since the aforementioned has received the majority of supplies, GPs and pharmacies should brace themselves for a large demand. Bookings are coming in thick and the healthcare system should be ready to serve everyone.

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be given a dose that is lowered as compared to children above 11 years old. Reports suggest that the Pfizer vaccine has been very effective in children in dealing with the Delta variant as well as the Omicron variant.

Food Logistics Hit Hard Due to Staff Shortages – Brisbane and Gold Coast Suffer

Staff shortages due to the ongoing crisis have forced some restaurants to shut down due to a lack of food and stock supply. Brisbane and Gold Coast are two major cities affected by the cut in logistics. Here’s everything you need to know. 

Reports coming in from restaurant owners in Brisbane say that they are suffering a huge hit to their economy due to disruptions caused by distributors having a staff shortage. Not only this, Gold Coast suppliers say that industries such as hospitality, events, and entertainment are also affected. Anything remotely connected to the food supply chain is under foray.

The average decline in the number of truck drivers, for example, collected from various sources, is 45%. Most of these people have family members affected by the virus and therefore have to quarantine themselves as well. This has also resulted in the remaining drivers working overtime and bearing extra stress and burden. The unfortunate business owners say that the 2020 lockdown had resulted in a loss of thousands of dollars. They fear that 2022 can be a death blow to their occupation if things get worse.

Supermarkets and supply shops are also in the midst

Supermarkets have also reported a decline in the food supply. Although, the situation isn’t so bad here as the variety of goods sold in supermarkets is keeping them afloat. In response to this, the state government has removed regular testing of truck drivers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Running away from the problem won’t solve it. Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said that truck drivers are an essential part of the economy that keeps Australia running. Therefore, every effort must be made to keep the supply chain going.

Family businesses and small shop owners have it the worst. In Brisbane alone, several restaurants and distributors have to stop their operations altogether. A specific case from Gold Coast reported that an 8-day shutdown in operations resulted in a loss of around a million dollars.

Although contact rules have been loosened, people affected by the variant have to isolate themselves. Since the number of cases is so high, staff shortages are just one of the many side effects hitting the Australian economy.

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