Daily News Roundup

February 8, 2021


MONDAY, February 8

At least 80 hotel quarantine staff, including nine police and a dozen army personnel, are isolating following the latest COVID-19 case of a hotel quarantine worker. 

The authorised officer at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport tested positive on Sunday.

About 80 COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria staff had been stood down or were in isolation and had to be tested, Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said on Monday.

They will have to isolate for 14 days from the time of potential exposure.

Three exposure sites have also been listed and an initial 15 people identified as primary close contacts.

Ms Neville said it did not appear there had been any breach by the hotel quarantine worker.

The individual is being interviewed about their activity, and genomic testing is under way.

“When we had a look through just this person’s engagement with people as they enter the hotel, as they exit the hotel, as they get moved to health hotels, it appears that there’s no breach in that engagement in terms of how close they were, in terms of touching things, in terms of not using infection prevention and control,” Ms Neville said.

Ms Neville said changes were continuing to be made to the hotel quarantine program as cases came to light.

Airconditioning is being reviewed, although the minister says she is confident of engineering reports showing no sharing of air between rooms or into common areas.

“Again we’ve got an occupational physician who’s coming in with the engineering team to have a look to see if there‘s anything else with airconditioning or any risk there,” she said.

Meals and other deliveries to individual doors have been staggered and face shields with surgical masks are being used for all staff.

Staff will also start being tested on their days off, starting from Monday.

“All these changes are about continuing to make the necessary adjustments to the program as new evidence comes to light, as we see different sorts of transmission occurring in our program,” Ms Neville said.

“Our key aim here is to not just have a robust hotel quarantine program but a robust outbreak management team and contact-tracing system.

“I think we’re seeing those, we have seen that with the Grand Hyatt and we’re seeing it again with this case – they moved very quickly last night when that positive case came in late last evening.”

There are 20 active cases in Victoria.


An Australian academic detained after the military coup in Myanmar has abruptly hung up on a radio interview as authorities entered the room.

Sean Turnell, a long-time economic adviser to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, confirmed on Saturday he had been arrested by Myanmar’s military.

“I’m just being detained at the moment and perhaps charged with something,” he told BBC radio.

Australian economist Sean Turnell with Aung San Suu Kyi.Source:Supplied

“I don’t know what that would be … could be anything at all.

“Just told that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave, and to have a seat, and so on.

“But everyone has been very polite and all that, but obviously I’m not free to move or anything like that.

“Some people have just arrived actually, so I better hang up,” Mr Turnell said before quickly ending the phone call.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had “serious concerns” about the welfare of the Australian academic, who is the first foreign national confirmed to have been detained.

“The Australian Government is deeply concerned about reports of Australian and other foreign nationals being detained arbitrarily in Myanmar,” she said in a statement on Saturday.


A former New South Wales cricket coach has been sentenced to three years in prison for grooming several teenage boys. 

Christopher Cranny thanked Magistrate Claire Girotto and nodded to his father in the public gallery before police escorted him out of Wollongong Local Court today.

The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity and intentionally performing a sexual act with a child.

Magistrate Girotto said the pattern of offending was the same against each of the boys and occurred between 2015 and 2017 and again in 2019.

“A message must be sent to those who might sexually abuse children,” Magistrate Girotto said.

To “denounce the conduct” and “protect the community” she handed Cranny a three-year prison sentence with a non-parole period of 14 months.

Cranny’s crimes involved communicating with his victims through social media, talking to them about sex and, at times, masturbating in front of them.

One of the boys’ fathers reported the conduct to police after reading a text message on his son’s phone.

In delivering her sentence Magistrate Girotto said she had taken into consideration that Cranny had “deep remorse” for what he had done and that he had offered to explore the option of chemical castration to reduce his “urges” towards young boys.

She explained that Cranny was from a “stable and loving environment”, but as a child had been “subjected to some bullying” and was “reclusive”.

He then developed an attraction to young boys, she said. 

Outside the courthouse Cranny’s father said his son was relieved to have the matter finalised.

“He realised what he’s done and he’s going to pay the price,” he said. 

“What my son has done, he’s done.

“To the families, all the best — I hope they can get over it and get on with it.”


Six properties, shares, luxury SUVs and watches are among almost $16m in assets seized from one of the architects of the Plutus Payroll tax scam.

The assets were confiscated from Simon Anquetil, one of the founders of payroll services company Plutus Payroll.

Anquetil, 38, from Liverpool in NSW, was jailed last year for seven-and-a-half years for his role in conspiring to defraud the commonwealth of more than $105m and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The Australian Federal Police obtained orders in 2017 to restrain the Anquetil’s assets worth an estimated $15.8m.

They were forfeited on January 31, six months after he was sentenced by the Supreme Court of NSW.

The assets include six properties, three Infiniti vehicles, multiple bank accounts, investment accounts and share holdings as well as luxury items including watches.

Anquetil was a principal conspirator in a syndicate alleged to have defrauded the commonwealth of more than $105m over three years.

The fraud ripped off innocent creditors and deprived the Australian public of valuable funds that could otherwise have been used to fund essential services.

Anquetil was arrested and charged as part of an AFP-led investigation in 2017, known as Operation Elbrus.

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