Daily News Roundup

February 21, 2020


Two people among more than 160 Australians on a coronavirus evacuation flight from Japan to Darwin yesterday tested positive to the disease on their arrival.

All the people on the plane were from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The people from the cruise ship will spend two weeks in quarantine at the Howard Springs quarantine centre.

The Australian Government’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, said authorities had been prepared for positive coronavirus cases from the evacuated cohort.

“Given there was continued evidence of spread of infection on board the Diamond Princes in recent days, the development of some positive cases after return to Australia is not unexpected, despite all of the health screening before departure,” he said in a statement.

Mr Murphy said both infected Australians “remained well” and were being quarantined in a separate isolation unit.

A medical evacuation to the home states of both patients and their families are currently being organised by health authorities.


The father of domestic violence murder victim Hannah Clarke says his daughter’s estranged husband, Rowan Baxter, was a monster who only cared about himself.

Baxter killed his estranged wife Hannah Clarke and their three children — Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey — on Wednesday morning, by dousing them in petrol and setting them alight.

“He might have said he cared and loved his children, but I know it was always about him coming first,” Ms Clarke’s father Lloyd Clarke wrote on Facebook.

“He only cared about himself.”

Mr Clarke thanked friends on Facebook for their messages, with the heartbroken grandfather writing: “Thank you for the beautiful words, [I hope] the scum rots in hell”.

Hannah’s mother Suzanne Clarke also took to social media to express her sadness, posting a photo of Ms Baxter and the children with angel wings.

She responded to a comment on the photo writing “just can’t believe it”.

Hannah’s brother and his wife have started a fundraiser for the family, to cover funeral costs and assist their parents who “have given every little thing they own to help my sister try and get away”.

In a post on Facebook Nat Clarke wrote: “I had my sister, nephew and two nieces taken from me in the worst way possible by a heartless monster”.

A close friend of Hannah Clarke’s and a regular at the gym she had owned with her estranged husband, wrote a public letter to the late mother of three, recalling their conversations in which Hannah Clarke spoke of her abuse.

“You confided in me about the family violence you had experienced for the past 10 years,” wrote Ms Manja Whaley, who also happened to be a domestic violence support worker at the time.

She recalls Hannah telling her: “I knew when I met you, I met you for a reason”.

Ms Whaley wrote: “I asked you if he had ever threatened to kill you or the children and you told me ‘he had not’.

“But there was one thing he had said, really matter of fact, when you first got together 10 years ago.

“That was that he had told his ex-partner with whom he had a child, that if she was to leave him he would take the child and end his own life and that of the child.”

According to media reports a domestic violence order was made against Baxter, which stipulated he had to stay 20 metres away from his estranged wife.


Victoria’s transport union says train drivers from the state’s regional rail service had been refusing for the past week to traverse a section of track where a Sydney-to-Melbourne train derailed last night, killing two people.

The XPT train, which was carrying 153 passengers, was travelling from Sydney to Melbourne when it derailed at Wallan shortly before 8:00pm.

The train’s driver, a 54-year-old ACT man, and train pilot, a 49-year-old Castlemaine woman who worked for Skilled Rail Services, were killed.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said it was “deeply saddened by the tragic accident that has taken the life of two rail workers and unnecessarily injured many more”.

“The Sydney to Melbourne XPT train derailment near Wallan Station last night occurred over a section of track over which was awaiting maintenance,” RTBU state secretary Luba Grigorovitch said in a statement.

“Conditions were altered and V/Line drivers rightly refused to traverse this section over the past week.”

The president of the Rail Futures Institute, John Hearsch, told AM a fire at a signalling facility close to the accident site had recently affected signalling between Donnybrook and Kilmore East.

“So I’m sure the ATSB [Australian Transport Safety Bureau] will be looking very closely at that to see whether there’s a link between the signalling problems, the set of points at the entrance to the crossing loop and the accident,” Mr Hearsch said.

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