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  • ‘We’re all in shock’: Tasmanian Senator addresses Devonport tragedy
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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‘We’re all in shock’: Tasmanian Senator addresses Devonport tragedy

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, who was brought up in the regional city of Devonport, was on the Today show earlier this morning.

Here’s what she had to say about yesterday’s tragedy which left five children dead and four others in hospital:

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

I’m a bit scared to get on the phone and make calls actually… I don’t know whose children they are. I don’t know whose grandchildren they are.

For us [in Tasmania today], I think we’re still in shock.

It is the most awful thing before Christmas time. Just awful.

Ms Lambie added that she hadn’t received any updates on the condition of the four other children who were hospitalised.

Nine, the broadcaster of the Today show, is also the owner of this masthead.

NSW resists lockdowns as Omicron places hospitals on ‘red alert’

The NSW government is determined to avoid imposing localised lockdowns before Christmas despite record numbers of COVID-19 cases and the state’s hospitals moving back to “red alert” operations.

The Perrottet government will retain its focus on hospital admissions as the measure of the outbreak’s severity, despite 1742 new cases emerging yesterday. NSW reported 192 coronavirus patients in hospital, up from 166 on Wednesday. This is a fraction of the peak of 1266 in late September.

John Hunter Hospital, and others in the NSW Hunter region, had already imposed restrictions in light of rising cases.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Intensive care admissions have remained stable, sitting at 26 as of Thursday.

A senior government source said they could not see any localised shutdowns implemented before Christmas, adding the “only thing that could change that is if the key metric is triggered, and that metric is ICU numbers going up significantly”.

More on the situation in NSW here.

Victorian Premier in isolation after COVID exposure at private party

On one of his first days of summer leave, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews received the Health Department text message that all residents in his state dread: You have been at an exposure site; test; isolate; check for symptoms.

On Saturday, on his first day of about a month’s leave, the Premier was at what was described by one attendee as a “swanky” 50th birthday party on the Elwood foreshore. Also there that night at the Elwood Bathers was a partygoer infected with the “wildly infectious” virus Mr Andrews has spent the best part of two years fighting.

The Elwood Bathers venue.Credit:Elwood Bathers Facebook page.

Late on Wednesday night, dozens of party guests were informed of their exposure. The Premier was tested yesterday and was isolating as he waited for a result.

Read the full story here.

Five children dead, several critical after Tasmanian jumping castle tragedy

A Tasmanian community has been rocked by grief after a jumping castle was blown into the air at a Devonport primary school, leaving five children dead and several in hospital.

Two boys and two girls died in the incident. However, the gender of the fifth child – whose death in hospital was announced by Tasmanian Police yesterday evening – is unclear.

Officers inspect the jumping castle at Hillcrest Primary School after the tragic incident on Thursday.Credit:AAP

At least four others remain in hospital, several in a critical condition.

All the children involved in the tragedy, which struck during a celebration of the final day of the school term, were in years 5 or 6.

A police and WorkSafe investigation is underway into the incident, which occurred about 10am on Thursday when the castle lifted about 10 metres into the air. It is unclear how many children were playing on the inflatable castle at the time.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, December 17. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • The northern Tasmanian community of Devonport is in mourning today after five children died when they fell from a jumping castle that was lifted about 10 metres into the air by a powerful gust of wind. Four other Hillcrest Primary Schools students are in hospital. The students were celebrating their last day of school for years 5 and 6.

Police officers comfort each other at the scene of a tragic jumping castle accident at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport that left five children dead. Credit:Monte Bovill/ABC News

  • NSW Health has asked Newcastle residents to “seriously consider” postponing social gatherings until after Christmas due to a local outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant. NSW recorded 1742 cases of COVID-19 yesterday, its highest daily tally of the pandemic so far and the first time in months that daily cases have surpassed Victoria’s 24-hour count.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant. Credit:Janie Barrett

  • Speaking of Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews is isolating after potentially being exposed to coronavirus at a birthday party at one of Melbourne’s beachside suburbs. The state recorded 1622 cases of COVID-19 yesterday and nine deaths.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday last week, his last day of work for the year.Credit:Justin McManus

  • In federal politics, the Morrison government is preparing to unveil its model for a long-awaited Indigenous “Voice” to Parliament. Under the plan, all state and territories would be represented on the 24-member panel, which would offer advice on proposed laws and policies that overwhelmingly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt will announce the model for the “Voice” to Parliament today.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

  • Elsewhere, the second Ashes Test continues in Adelaide today. And businesses across Queensland are now subject to eased coronavirus restrictions (i.e. full capacity limits). However, unvaccinated shoppers are being locked out of certain venues (hospitality, sporting and entertainment). The Sunshine State recorded 22 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, up from six the day before. Tasmania recorded one case and the ACT recorded 11.
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