Daily News Roundup

March 11, 2021

AAP: Mal Fairclough



The federal government will halve the price of nearly 800,000 airline tickets as part of a $1.2 billion package aimed at getting more Australians to spend big on domestic holidays.

The move is designed to prop up ailing parts of the tourism and aviation sectors, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and which fear the end of the JobKeeper program later this month.

Between April and July, a 50 per cent discount on tickets will be offered for flights to and from 13 regions that normally rely heavily on international visitors.

The destinations are the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays region, the Sunshine Coast, the Lasseter region which includes Uluru, Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport, Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula and Kangaroo Island.

Routes and the precise number of tickets will be driven by demand and are still being discussed with airlines, but it is estimated an average of 46,000 half-price fares will be offered each week mostly with Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar.

They will be available for sale on airline websites from April 1.

Senior government ministers hope this new package will encourage cashed-up Australians, who normally travel to Bali or Europe during Autumn and Winter, to instead spend their money at home.

They say a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast could be as cheap as $60 and boost traffic on the route by as much as 40 per cent.

“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever.

“They want their tourists back.”

However, it insists the program is targeted at locations that still have the highest dependence on JobKeeper, international tourists and domestic flights.


Samantha Armytage broke down in tears as she bid farewell to Sunrise and blasted parts of the media for “bullying” her throughout her career.

At the end of her final show on air, Armytage thanked the cast and crew before saying: “I do want to say that I never fully understood some of the scrutiny and the snarkiness and the bullying from some aspects of the media, but today we move on from that because there is a new chapter starting. It has been overwhelmingly a good experience in my life.”

Armytage continued: “Thank you, most all, to all our viewers, you are just wonderful people. There are so many lovely people out there, so many more lovely ones than the nasty ones.”

At the start of this morning’s show, co-host David ‘Kochie’ Koch said: “For the past eight years she’s been a much-loved part of the Sunrise family but the time has come for her to focus on her family. Goodbyes are never easy, there will probably be some tears, but this morning we’re going to celebrate an incredible journey with some very special guests and a lot of surprises.”

The first big surprise came when weatherman Sam Mac rummaged through the office that Armytage shares with Kochie.

Later in the show weatherman Sam Mac paid tribute to Armytage with a song to the tune of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).

He made reference to Armytage’s recent comments to Stellar that TV is “full of sociopaths and narcissists” and even had a dig at Channel 9’s Today show.

During the show Armytage broke down in tears when her sister, Georgie, skyped in from London to congratulate her on her career.

Later, Armytage’s husband Richard Lavender and her dog Banjo appeared in studio.

Laid-back Lavender explained to Kochie how he fell in love with Armytage the first time he saw her.

“We met at the end of a friend’s birthday party,” he said. “I remember seeing her and I got this really nice feeling. I thought, that’s my girl.

“One of her old school friends was staying with me and the next morning I was cooking breakfast. She (the friend) came into the kitchen and said, ‘can I give you a hand?’ And I said, ‘yes you can, you can get me Sam Armytage’s phone number.’ And here we are.”

Armytage paid tribute to her husband, saying: “He’s literally my other half. He loves all the things I love and now I have someone to do all those things with. We’re great mates and we have a great time.”

The couple said they’re looking forward to spending time with family when Armytage steps away from TV.


Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has lodged a complaint with British television station ITV over comments made about her by former breakfast host Piers Morgan.

Morgan was hosting Good Morning Britain, one of the country’s top rated breakfast shows, when he said he did not believe a word the duchess had said during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

ITV received more than 41,000 complaints, including from Meghan.

The station’s royal editor, Chris Ship, said the Duchess of Sussex filed her complaint on Monday following the broadcast of Good Morning Britain.

“Meghan raised concerns about how [Piers Morgan’s] words affect the issue of mental health and what it might do to others contemplating suicide,” he wrote on social media.

Ship said the complaint was believed to have been sent to the broadcaster’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall.

The duchess had told Winfrey that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore” and said she would have committed suicide if she had not told her husband, Prince Harry.

Morgan left Good Morning Britain in the wake of the controversy over his comments, saying he and the station “agreed to disagree”.

He has since doubled down on his stance, saying: “Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on.”

But he also conceded that it was “not for me to question if she felt suicidal”.

Along with feeling suicidal, the duchess said she did not receive support from the royal family after raising concerns about racism.

The issue of race centres around an alleged conversation had amongst family members about the skin tone of Harry and Meghan’s son, Archie.

“I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth,” Morgan had said on Wednesday.

“I think the damage she has done to the British monarchy and the Queen, at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital, is enormous, and frankly contemptable.”

He continued his defence on social media, again saying he did not believe what Meghan said during her interview.

“On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK,” he said.

The fallout from the interview has caused issues for the British monarchy.

A statement released by Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen said the issues would be addressed privately.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.

“While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, remained tight-lipped when he was asked by reporters about the interview while visiting a hospital.


Waiting three months between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine results in high efficacy, backing current recommendations from Australian authorities, new research shows.

The study, which involved more than 17,000 participants and was published recently in The Lancet, found the vaccine — which most people in Australia will receive — had an 81 per cent efficacy rate when a second dose was given three months after the first.

This dropped to a 55 per cent efficacy rate if the second dose was given less than six weeks after the first.

Jodie McVernon, a director of epidemiology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said the result was not surprising.

“That finding, of a delayed interval between a primary dose and a booster dose giving a better antibody response, is consistent with some other vaccines that we have seen before,” she said.

Vaccines for the flu, Ebola and malaria also give greater protection and stronger immune responses after a longer interval between doses.

But Professor McVernon said a longer wait time between doses was not ideal for every vaccine.

“This is where every vaccine needs to be trialled and needs to be studied to work out those doses and what the best interval will be,” she said.

Depending on the country, the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine has been offered to people between four and 12 weeks apart.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration recommends waiting 12 weeks between doses.

Burnet Institute program director for disease elimination Heidi Drummer welcomed the study’s findings.

“It’s great news for Australians because what it’s saying is that if you wait three months between your first dose and your second dose, there seems to be a really good increase in efficacy,” she said.

But why waiting longer leads to better results is still not clear.

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