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More Neighbours actors come forward with racism claims

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Actors in long-running soap Neighbours are coming forward with allegations of racism on the set of the iconic Australian show.Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton was the first actor to make detailed allegations of racism on the Channel 10 series yesterday in an explosive Instagram post.Clanton said the set was a “lonely, triggering and traumatising place to…

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Actors in long-running soap Neighbours are coming forward with allegations of racism on the set of the iconic Australian show.

Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton was the first actor to make detailed allegations of racism on the Channel 10 series yesterday in an explosive Instagram post.

Clanton said the set was a “lonely, triggering and traumatising place to work”.

Within hours, another Aboriginal actor and Neighbours cast member, Meyne Wyatt, took to Twitter to say he had also experienced racism while working on the show. Wyatt added that homophobia on the set was also “rampant”.

A third actor, Sharon Johal, who played Dipi Rebecchi on the soap, expressed her support for Clanton, commenting with three heart emojis in response to her Instagram post.

In February, Johal told the Daily Telegraph appearing on Neighbours made her a target for racist trolls.

https://twitter.com/meynewyatt/status/1379334253599629312?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

In Clanton’s Instagram post, she claimed she “n-word” was openly used twice, she also said she witnessed a white actor calling another actor of colour a “lil monkey.”

Clanton says when she confronted the actor she was told to go somewhere else as she was “making others uncomfortable”.

A spokesperson for Fremantle said the production company would “continue to work with all cast and crew to ensure Neighbours continues to be a fully inclusive environment”.

Many other actors have expressed their support for Clanton and Wyatt.

Zoe Terakes, who co-starred with Clanton in the Foxtel drama Wentworth, wrote on Instagram: “Standing with you @shareenaclanton. Remarkable, powerful, courageous you. This industry is so f—ing lucky to have you. I love you.”

Actor Belinda Bromilow, who has appeared on Doctor Doctor and Packed To The Rafters, said on Wyatt’s Instagram page: “I’m so sorry and angry this continues. It shouldn’t be this way. I am committed to doing better.”


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Biden announces first overseas trip as US President

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President Joe Biden will embark on his first overseas trip in office in June, the White House announced Friday, with the aim of demonstrating his administration’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and re-engagement with key allies.Biden will attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Cornwall, England, set for June 11-13, followed by a visit…

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President Joe Biden will embark on his first overseas trip in office in June, the White House announced Friday, with the aim of demonstrating his administration’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and re-engagement with key allies.

Biden will attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Cornwall, England, set for June 11-13, followed by a visit to Brussels, where he will hold meetings with European Union leadership and attend the June 14 summit of leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The meetings with the United States’ closest allies come as Biden has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to a summit in the coming months in a third country, though no date has yet been set.

Most recent American presidents have selected North American neighbours for their first cross-border trips, though former President Donald Trump, whose penchant for unilateral action and open scepticism of the NATO alliance unsettled American allies, made his first overseas stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For Biden, the first trip is meant to turn the page from Trump’s approach to alliances.

“It’s both a practical chance to connect with key allies and partners on shared opportunities and challenges,” said Yohannes Abraham, the chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council, in an interview with the AP.

“But also it’s an illustration of something that the president has been clear about that the transatlantic alliance is back, that revitalising it is a key priority of his, and that the transatlantic relationship is a strong foundation on which our collective security and shared prosperity are built.”

Biden, for his part, held “virtual bilateral” meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico in February and March, respectively. The June trip will follow after Biden’s first in-person bilateral meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House last week and next month’s planned visit by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

In Cornwall, Biden will hold bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders. He will hold additional one-on-one meetings in Brussels with NATO allies, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalising the Transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests,” she said in a statement.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves, after a coronavirus briefing in Downing Street, London

The announcement comes shortly after the conclusion of Biden’s two-day virtual climate summit, in which he received praise from leaders, particularly those in Europe, for returning the US to the Paris Climate Agreement and reengaging on a host of other issues of shared concern.

The trip will mark the most ambitious travel schedule yet for Biden since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as the president has sought to model safe behaviour for the nation.

It comes as the US has stepped up its travel warnings for much of the world due to the virus. Both the UK and Belgium are listed by the State Department under level four, the highest, “do not travel” advisory, and are the subject of specific prohibitions preventing most travel to the US by non-citizens.

The White House said it is working closely with host countries to ensure the safety of all attendees at the summits.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention last month lifted quarantine guidance for international travel for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19, but still recommends that vaccinated individuals returning from overseas monitor their symptoms and take a test 3-5 days after returning to the US.


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Perth’s snap lockdown sparks border closures across Australia

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Perth has been effectively cut off from New Zealand and much of Australia as health authorities across two states rush to trace a hotel quarantine COVID-19 cluster.New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory closed their borders to anyone from the Western Australia capital on Friday night and NSW health authorities are quizzing travellers…

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Perth has been effectively cut off from New Zealand and much of Australia as health authorities across two states rush to trace a hotel quarantine COVID-19 cluster.

New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory closed their borders to anyone from the Western Australia capital on Friday night and NSW health authorities are quizzing travellers on arrival.

The Perth hotel quarantine cluster spread further on Friday, sparking a three-day lockdown for metropolitan Perth and the neighbouring Peel region when it was revealed a 54-year-old Victorian man had tested positive for COVID-19 after spending several days in Perth.

READ MORE: NZ pauses travel bubble with WA

WA’s acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Armstrong, said it was likely the man was infected in hotel quarantine, before being released on April 17 and flying to Melbourne on April 21.

He was in an adjacent room on the same Mercure Hotel floor where it was revealed earlier in the week that the coronavirus had spread between guests in two separate rooms.

“Whole genome sequencing is being carried out to determine the strain and potential source of his infection,” he said.

“However, it is likely he acquired the infection while at the hotel.”

There were reports panic buying began even before WA Premier Mark McGowan announced the lockdown.

READ MORE: AFL clash rocked by Perth COVID-19 outbreak

READ MORE: Family caught coronavirus from across hotel corridor in Perth

Queensland, Victoria,Tasmania, NT and NZ shut borders

From Saturday, only local residents will be allowed to fly from Perth or Peel into Queensland or Victoria and any new arrivals must quarantine for 14 days, while even residents need a special exemption to enter Tasmania.

The Northern Territory doesn’t differentiate between residents and non-residents but all arrivals must enter mandatory supervised quarantine.

Queensland arrivals must go straight into hotel quarantine while Victorians returning to their home state from Perth can quarantine at home.

Anyone in Queensland, Victoria or the Northern Territory who was in Perth or Peel on April 17 or later must get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.

Those already in Tasmania who visited an exposure site in Perth or Peel should contact Tasmanian health authorities.

On top of these measures, more than 250 travellers onboard Qantas flight QF778 on Wednesday from Perth to Melbourne are required to isolate for 14 days.

Anyone who was in Melbourne Airport terminal one from 6.30-7.30pm on Wednesday must isolate until they get a negative result.

New Zealand has temporarily cut WA out of the Travel bubble

https://twitter.com/VicGovDH/status/1385555025590509568

Sydney arrivals scanned for exposure

In NSW, anyone arriving from Perth or Peel is subject to the same stay-at-home directions they would have faced if they were still at home in WA.

Recent arrivals from Perth in Queensland face the same restrictions, even if they tested negative.

NSW Health authorities are screening arrivals at Sydney Airport and telling anyone who has visited any of more than a dozen WA exposure sites to get tested and self-isolate. 

South Australia and the ACT were yet to update travel advice online late on Friday.

https://twitter.com/NSWHealth/status/1385504424487882754

Major events impacted

The lockdown forced the cancellation of public Anzac Day events across Perth for the second year in a row.

“I encourage everyone to take part in the driveway dawn service again this year, and I will do that again,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

The new measures have also had a big impact on national sporting competitions.

The Western Force’s history-making Super Rugby win over the Queensland Reds snuck in before the midnight deadline, meaning fans could still attend but needed to wear masks.

But no fans will be allowed when Fremantle hosts North Melbourne in the AFL on Saturday.

The West Coast Eagles had already arrived in Victoria for their clash with Geelong, which is still going ahead,  and had reportedly been cleared to return to WA afterwards. 

It’s unclear what the lockdown means for the Queensland Reds’ return home or Perth Glory’s match scheduled for Sunday in Brisbane.


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Switching off: AGL mystifies the market

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Chief executive Brett Redman and chairman Graeme Hunt had met late on Tuesday after several high-level strategy days. Each was focused on nutting out a plan to split the company, only announced three weeks earlier.Instead, the conversation quickly took a different turn.On the 24th floor at 200 ­George St, the boss of Australia’s biggest energy…

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Chief executive Brett Redman and chairman Graeme Hunt had met late on Tuesday after several high-level strategy days. Each was focused on nutting out a plan to split the company, only announced three weeks earlier.Instead, the conversation quickly took a different turn.On the 24th floor at 200 ­George St, the boss of Australia’s biggest energy retailer was suddenly headed for the exit.The official version was that Redman handed in his resignation. After weighing up a lesser role leading one of the soon-to-be-separated companies, he could not commit to a further five-year stint after already spending 15 years with the power giant.However, his hasty exit — he was out the door as CEO on Thursday — has sent the rumour mill into overdrive. Industry insiders question why Redman was not allowed to deliver the restructuring he had in large part devised. “Either the board is extremely dumb or there is something missing in the story we’re being told,” one industry executive told The Weekend Australian. “It doesn’t stack up.”Certainly when Redman broke the news to several of his executive team late on Wednesday, there was huge surprise that the AGL “lifer” would choose to abandon ship during one of the most pivotal restructures of its 180-year history.Those close to the board say they had little choice. Once Redman had indicated his intention to resign, as they tell it, it would have been futile for the CEO to keep working on a major break-up of the company when he already had one foot out the door.The board saw its hand being forced and made the emergency decision to parachute Hunt in as interim boss while AGL director Peter Botten was named chairman.By Wednesday night, the news had leaked into the tight-knit electricity industry. As Redman returned to his Pymble home in Sydney’s upper north shore, a small number of AGL staff worked late into the night preparing the announcement. Redman would get to keep his short and long-term incentives after being treated as a “good leaver” under the company’s executive remuneration framework.The “good leaver” terms allow executives to keep incentives under a range of scenarios including the CEO role being terminated by mutual agreement with the board. It also keeps the official narrative in place.Redman returned to the office early on Thursday morning and filmed a video message for staff, before The Australian broke the news.Hunt had of course been here before. In 2018 he was forced to call Andy Vesey, Redman’s predecessor, to a meeting where the US executive was told his time was up. The combative Vesey boarded a plane to the US soon after and never came back.Hunt quickly appointed Redman, AGL’s then CFO, as his replacement. His mandate was to reset the company and improve relationships with Canberra, develop a more unified executive team and find a way of growing new sources of revenue as the power market’s switch to renewables gathered pace. AGL Energy ASX chart (AGL)But any sense that Redman would be able to sit back and enjoy the $1bn in record annual profits brought in by Vesey in 2018 would soon fade. Australia’s oldest utility quickly saw its earnings whiplashed by low wholesale electricity prices and government intervention on top of a backlash by investors over exposure to polluting coal plants.A $3bn plan to buy his way out of trouble through a takeover of telco Vocus was unsuccessful and Redman eventually came to terms with needing to make a more fundamental change.The blueprint unveiled on March 30 was bold.AGL would create two ASX-listed companies through a demerger after splitting its retail and supply arms to form a green electricity retailer and a generation giant dominated by coal power.Redman would divide the company into a zero carbon retail business dubbed New AGL and a generation business — including its coal plants Loy Yang A and Bayswater — in a separate vehicle known as PrimeCo.Curiously, Redman spent relatively little time engaging with investors about the grand restructure in the last few weeks with Hunt thought to have taken a leading role in speaking with shareholders.There were immediately plenty of misgivings and questions about whether the move may be masking a fundamental dent to earnings in the next few years.Others said that with AGL shares halving in value in the last nine months alone, the company could hardly afford to sit on its hands and hope for the best.Either way, industry watchers say having Hunt, with scant energy experience, as interim boss in charge of executing the restructure is hardly ideal. “If you’re the architect of the plan, surely you would want to have Redman there to see it further down the road. It smells very fishy,” one source said.Redman will remain “on-call” to AGL until October but he’s expected to spend little time in the office. Pulling off the company’s move to New AGL now rests with Hunt.
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