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The Informer: Ash Barty to make history as another Aussie icon fights for survival

The federal government is putting $50 million into saving the east coast koala population. Picture: Shutterstock
The federal government is putting $50 million into saving the east coast koala population. Picture: Shutterstock

All eyes will be on our Ash Barty tonight when she takes to the court to claim a place in Australian tennis history.

Barty is the first home-grown player to reach the Australian Open women's singles final since Wendy Turnbull achieved the feat 42 years ago. The last Aussie to take the Australian Open singles championship was Chris O'Neil in 1978.

The world No.1 and dual grand slam champion will be taking on American world No. 30 Danielle Collins on Rod Laver Arena tonight at 7.30pm. Go Ash!

Around the country, COVID case stats have been moving in the right direction.

In South Australia, the seven-day case average has dropped below 2000 and on Saturday the state recorded it's lowest daily total this year at 1740 new cases. Sadly there were five more deaths.

Tasmania has seen a decline in COVID hospitalisations while recording 683 new cases. Premier Peter Gutwein said the state is considering dropping check-in requirements for lower-risk venues as case numbers decrease.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard let a few details slip on the yet-to-be released school return plan as the state recorded another 12 COVID deaths. He said masks would be mandatory for students in year 7 and above while children in year 3 to 6 would be encouraged to wear masks at school - but he promptly clammed up.

Dr Gerrard made it clear that Queenslanders were in the peak of their Omicron waive, not the end.

NSW has now sadly recorded more deaths in January this year (653) than it did all of last year (609). There were 13,354 new cases up until 8pm Friday in NSW and 49 further deaths.

Victoria's total active cases has dropped by more than 20,000 cases overnight. The total number of active cases in the state is now 79,836, down from 101,605 active cases reported on Friday. On Saturday Victoria recorded 12,250 new COVID-19 infections and 31 deaths.

Meanwhile, the US is poised to send troops to Eastern Europe as the NATO countries beef up their presence as part of a stand-off with Russia. President Biden has been tight-lipped on the exact number of soldiers to be deployed to the region but said no US soldiers would be sent into Ukraine itself. Watch this space.

And some of our cutest native animals are getting a hand-up from the government. The feds will spend $50 million over four years to help bring east coast koalas back from the brink.

PM Scott Morrison said the funds would go to restoring habitat, monitoring populations and boosting research into koala health.

"This is about throwing our arms around our koala population in the way I believe all Australians would want us to," the PM said.

Albo met the announcement with some skepticism, with the opposition leader saying the government had a pattern of making promises to be delivered over a decade.

"Guess what? You need to take action on climate change if you want to save koalas," he said.

But any money is better than none for the Aussie icons who have had to contend with habitat destruction, fires and climate change.

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This story All eyes on Ash Barty as another Aussie icon fights for survival first appeared on The Canberra Times.