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Chinese man deported after Australia Post find lizards inside rice cooker shipments

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chinese man deported after australia post find lizards inside rice cooker shipments

One man has been deported and others face wildlife trafficking charges after an illegal shipment of Australian lizards packed in rice cookers was intercepted at a Queensland mail distribution centre.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service were alerted to the smuggling attempt after Australia Post officers conducted X-rays on brand new rice cookers bound for China which showed ‘unexplainable shadows’.

‘When QPWS wildlife officers dismantled the rice cookers and inspected them, a number of juvenile lizards were located in the electronic compartments,’ QPWS wildlife southern operations coordinator Warren Christensen said in a statement on Thursday.

One man has been deported and others face wildlife trafficking charges after officials intercepted an illegal shipment of Australian lizards packed in rice cookers

One man has been deported and others face wildlife trafficking charges after officials intercepted an illegal shipment of Australian lizards packed in rice cookers

One man has been deported and others face wildlife trafficking charges after officials intercepted an illegal shipment of Australian lizards packed in rice cookers 

Albino blue tongues, bearded dragons and shingleback lizards were found in the rice cookers and are worth thousands on the international black market

Albino blue tongues, bearded dragons and shingleback lizards were found in the rice cookers and are worth thousands on the international black market

Albino blue tongues, bearded dragons and shingleback lizards were found in the rice cookers and are worth thousands on the international black market 

The reptiles included an albino blue tongue, bearded dragons and shingleback lizards which had been placed inside socks or cloth packaging, with elastic binding their legs to their bodies, preventing them from moving.

Mr Christensen said the lizards are highly desired for their beauty and unique traits and are worth thousands on the international black market.

‘Thankfully these animals did not make it onto the black market, but they cannot be released into the wild because we don’t know where they were captured or if they were exposed to disease,’ he said.

‘They will spend the rest of their days in captivity, taking part in breeding programs and educating the public about the illegal trade of wildlife.’

A 28-year-old Taiwanese man was arrested in Victoria and charged with 67 offences, including aggravated cruelty to an animal.

He was sentenced to six-months in prison before being deported.

Wildlife trafficking can result in 10 years imprisonment and fines up to $210,000.

The lizards were found in the rice cookers when authorities spotted unusual shadows during the x-ray

The lizards were found in the rice cookers when authorities spotted unusual shadows during the x-ray

The lizards were found in the rice cookers when authorities spotted unusual shadows during the x-ray

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Australia

Seven new virus cases on ship off Western Australia spark outbreak fears

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seven new virus cases on ship off western australia spark outbreak fears

Seven crew members on board a ship anchored off Western Australia’s northwest coast have tested positive to Covid-19.

The cases follow those of two men taken off the bulk carrier on Friday, which has been anchored nine nautical miles off Port Hedland since September 16.

In total, 20 Filipino nationals and the captain were on board the Patricia Oldendorff and it is expected more may yet test positive.

The seven new cases have to remain on board as they are part of a skeleton crew of nine to keep it operational.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said on Saturday their symptoms were minor or non-existent and would be monitored.

Nine crew on board the Patricia Oldendorff have tested positive with 20 crew members still on board anchored nine nautical miles off Port Hedland

Nine crew on board the Patricia Oldendorff have tested positive with 20 crew members still on board anchored nine nautical miles off Port Hedland

Nine crew on board the Patricia Oldendorff have tested positive with 20 crew members still on board anchored nine nautical miles off Port Hedland

However, he warned there was a risk of a massive new outbreak if the ship was not contained, as cases numbers were expected to grow. 

‘If it gets out into the community it will create a disaster, worse than what we’ve seen in Melbourne,’ he said.

The evacuated crew members, including the two positive cases identified on Friday, are in hotel quarantine in Port Hedland.

Mr Cook said ‘every safety measure is being put in place’ so the local community should not be concerned.

‘These crew do not currently need medical treatment but should it be required, every precaution is in place to protect healthcare workers and members of the public,’ he said.

Private security guards are being used in hotel quarantine in Port Hedland, as in Perth, which prompted questions in light of the failures of private security in Victoria.

Mr Cook told reporters there was a ‘world of difference’ between WA and Victoria.

‘All our security guards are trained in infection control otherwise they cannot be on site,’ he said.

‘We have our own people on the sites making sure that they can supervise the security guards.’

Infected crew are taken off the ship to hospital in Port Hedland

Infected crew are taken off the ship to hospital in Port Hedland

Infected crew are taken off the ship to hospital in Port Hedland

It is expected the two skeleton crew who have tested negative for the virus may well contract it in due course or have already had it, so serology tests are being done.

Arrangements are being made for a replacement skeleton crew to be available to allow for a deep clean of the ship.

A rapid response team is being led by experienced doctor Tudor Codreanu, who also managed COVID-19 outbreaks on board the Artania cruise liner and Al-Kuwait livestock ship earlier this year.

The ship left the Philippines on September 5 with a fresh crew, indicating the virus came from that country, Mr Cook said.

The seven new cases have not been attributed to WA’s Saturday case-count but will be included in Sunday’s numbers.

One case was recorded in WA on Saturday – an Australian traveller in hotel quarantine.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Jacinda Ardern vows to ban plastic cutlery and single-use coffee cups

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jacinda ardern vows to ban plastic cutlery and single use coffee cups

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups and fruit stickers if she wins the election.

The New Zealand prime minister announced her new zero waste police on Sunday   and pledged $50million to research plastic alternatives, pending ballot results on October 17.

Businesses will have five years to find substitutes to everyday plastic items, such as disposable cups and lids, straws and drink stirrers.

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups. Pictured: Ms Ardern leading a group of schoolchildren on a beach cleanup before coronavirus lockdowns

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups. Pictured: Ms Ardern leading a group of schoolchildren on a beach cleanup before coronavirus lockdowns

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups. Pictured: Ms Ardern leading a group of schoolchildren on a beach cleanup before coronavirus lockdowns

‘By 2025 we will phase out single use and hard to recycle plastic items such as drink stirrers, cutlery, some cups and lids, produce bags, straws, cotton buds and stickers on produce,’ Ms Ardern said, according to Stuff

‘All of these items currently have non-plastic alternatives, and some we will be able to phase out before 2025.’

Ms Ardern accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste

Ms Ardern accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste

Ms Ardern accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste

The Labour leader accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste.  

‘The letters really made a mark on me,’ she said 

It is expected to be welcomed by businesses and generate employment opportunities for plastic alternative manufacturers.

About $3million was previously given to packaging company Pact to develop a range of recycled food packaging for deli foods, meats and bakery trays at its Auckland location.

While Labour previously announced an intention to ban single-use plastics, it did not include a time frame. 

The announcement comes as the nation is plunged into a recession for the first time in a decade following the draconian lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter. 

The eye-watering figures, released in September by Statistics New Zealand, are significantly more severe than Australia’s record seven per cent plummet during the same period. 

The popular 'Eat Street' in Rotorua, New Zealand is seen empty during the COVID-19 lockdown

The popular 'Eat Street' in Rotorua, New Zealand is seen empty during the COVID-19 lockdown

The popular ‘Eat Street’ in Rotorua, New Zealand is seen empty during the COVID-19 lockdown

The nation went into a strict lockdown on March 25 and emerged from it on June 8 as part of an elimination strategy.

Residents were ordered to stay home to prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

Figures showed construction activity was down 26 per cent, manufacturing fell by 13 per cent, and household spending was down by 12 per cent when compared with the previous quarter.

Stats NZ spokesman Paul Pascoe said the closure of New Zealand’s borders since March 19 had also had a huge effect of some sectors of the economy. 

‘Industries like retail, accommodation and restaurants, and transport saw significant declines in production because they were most directly affected by the international travel ban and strict nationwide lockdown,’ he said. 

‘Other industries, like food and beverage manufacturing, were essential services and fell much less.’  

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the lockdown was necessary to save thousands of lives and get on top of the virus so the economy could bounce back faster. 

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Victoria records 16 new coronavirus cases and two deaths before lockdown easing

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victoria records 16 new coronavirus cases and two deaths before lockdown easing

Victoria has just 16 new cases of coronavirus amid hopes lockdown will be eased as case numbers fall fasted than expected.

The state’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown announced in early September is expected to be tweaked on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.

Many will, once more, be hanging on Premier Daniel Andrews’ words at what has become a sombre tradition of weighty Sunday press conferences.

Victoria also suffered another two deaths in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, taking its total to 784.

The number of new cases and deaths is up from Saturday’s total of 14 cases and one death.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

The two-week rolling daily case average of 23.6 is well under the 30-50 case average health authorities were aiming for.

Under the original plans to take effect from Monday, the 9pm curfew would remain, as well as the 5km travel limit and takeaway-only for restaurants and cafes.

Restrictions around public gatherings would ease to allow up to five people from a maximum of two households to meet outside for social interaction.

Childcare and kindergarten would reopen and some school students would return to classrooms in term 4.

The Victorian opposition is calling for rules to be loosened well beyond this, saying the curfew should go, all school students should return and restaurants, retail and offices should re-open.

It has been a dramatic few days in Victorian politics culminating in the resignation of Jenny Mikakos as health minister on Saturday morning.

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

By the afternoon, Daniel Andrews had announced mental health minister Martin Foley as her replacement and he was sworn in.

Ms Mikakos’ resignation came a day after she heard her boss tell the hotel quarantine inquiry board she was responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services, which was ultimately responsible for running the quarantine scheme.

The hotel quarantine program in Victoria failed because private security guards breached infection control, causing the spread of the virus into the community and a devastating second wave.

To date, 782 Victorians have died of the virus and the entire state has been subject to strict lockdowns, workforce and school closures and prolonged social isolation.

‘I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished but in light of the premier’s statement… and the fact there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with… I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet,’ Ms Mikakos wrote.

‘I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined. I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in.

‘In good conscience, I do not believe that my action led to them.’

Ms Mikakos will also be resigning from the Victorian parliament.

The premier, like all leaders who came before the $3 million inquiry, told the board on Friday he did not know who made the decision to use private security guards.

He pushed back on suggestions from reporters on Saturday that he should also resign, saying he would not run from a challenge and remained focused on fighting the pandemic and repairing the state’s economy.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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