The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday October 8.

Vic cops contract COVID-19 after protests.

A Victorian police officer is in a serious condition in hospital with COVID-19 after working at anti-vaccine protests in Melbourne. 

Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt has confirmed two officers from an inner-north west Melbourne police station have tested positive for COVID-19.

He said one of the officers was transferred to hospital early Thursday morning after his condition deteriorated.

"The officer in hospital is receiving support to breath, I'm unsure of further treatment but clearly it's serious enough to warrant hospitalisation," Mr Gatt told reporters on Thursday.

"At least one of the members that has tested positive has been active in terms of working operationally at protest activity, I'm not sure which of the demonstrations.

"It highlights the risk our members face in this pandemic, and heightens the need for us to make sure they're protected at work."

Hundreds of people gathered in Melbourne CBD a fortnight ago to protest against mandatory vaccinations in the construction industry.

The construction union believes at least seven infections had been recorded among people who attended CFMEU headquarters for a rally on September 20.

Premier Daniel Andrews said daily cases were "higher than we'd like them to be" and urged Melburnians and regional residents in lockdown to follow the rules for a couple more weeks.

He has no plans to alter Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown, despite newly installed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet accelerating his state's reopening after it reached the 70 per cent double-dose milestone on Wednesday.


Victoria's more cautious roadmap is designed to protect the health system from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 hospital admissions as the state reopens.

There are now 564 Victorians in hospital battling the virus, up 39 from Wednesday, with 115 of those in intensive care and 74 on a ventilator.

Doctors, teachers concerned NSW easing rules too fast.

Doctors are concerned that NSW's revised 'roadmap' out of COVID-19 restrictions could see the state relaxing too quickly. 

The Australian Medical Association of NSW said changes to the state's plan to exit lockdown could overwhelm the hospital system with virus cases and burn out healthcare workers.

"We've got a new premier in the driver's seat, but that's not a good enough reason to deviate from the course previously set," AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said.


"Keeping people safe must be the premier's top priority.

"Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a 'popular' decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets."

Newly minted Premier Dominic Perrottet on Thursday announced a revised strategy to reopen NSW.

After meeting with the crisis cabinet on Wednesday, when the state reached a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone, Mr Perrottet announced the changes, with the state to emerge from months of lockdown on Monday.

As part of the new plans, indoor gatherings will be capped at 10 people, not counting children under 12. Outdoor gatherings will be lifted to 30 people.


For weddings and funerals, 100 people can attend. NSW indoor swimming pools will also be able to open for lessons, training and rehabilitation activities.

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the adult population is fully jabbed, expected around October 25.

That's when 3000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can reopen, but without dancing. Masks also won't be required in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back to Sydney's CBD.

Teachers are also blindsighted by the change in the roadmap, with the NSW Teachers Federation criticising "this Government’s complete disrespect for the teaching profession."

While AMA NSW urged the premier to "pump the brakes" on the easing of restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and lobby group Business NSW welcomed the state government's road map changes.

"With NSW passing the 70 per cent double vaccination rate threshold ... Australians are beginning to get their lives back," Mr Morrison said.

ACT won't ease lockdown restrictions early.

The ACT won't ease its COVID-19 restrictions ahead of schedule, despite NSW bringing forward some of its freedoms.

The territory's health minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, said the easing of NSW's lockdown on Monday would bring about more COVID-19 cases in regional areas just over the ACT border.


She said it would also lead a greater number of admissions for the virus in ACT hospitals from residents in regional NSW.

"We're going to have to wait and see a little bit around what it means for us. We are most focused on what this means for our local region," Ms Stephen-Smith said.

"It's going to be interesting to see what happens when those restrictions are lifted, combined with a relatively high vaccination rate."

Of the 15 people currently in ACT hospitals with COVID-19, one-third are from areas in regional NSW.

Meanwhile, the ACT has outlined its plan for federal MPs to arrive in Canberra ahead of the next sitting fortnight, slated to begin later this month.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said MPs and staff who were fully vaccinated will not need to do two weeks of quarantine ahead of the sitting.

Pfizer asks US to approve vaccine for under 12s.

Pfizer is asking the US government to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged five to 11.

If regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

Pfizer already had announced that a lower dose of its vaccine worked and appeared safe in a study of the youngsters.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Thursday officially filed its application with the Food and Drug Administration.

FDA's advisers are scheduled to debate the evidence on October 26.


Until now, the vaccine was available only to those as young as 12.

Children currently make up about 27 per cent of all US coronavirus cases and an increasing percentage of hospitalisations, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That reflects the high contagiousness of the Delta variant among unvaccinated people.

While kids are less susceptible to severe COVID-19, they can spread the virus to others, including vulnerable populations that are more at risk of severe illness.

Social media is coward's palace: Scott Morrison.

Scott Morrison has blasted the "coward's palace" of social media as momentum grows within his government for a crackdown on internet giants.

The prime minister flagged more action to make companies accountable with Facebook's efforts to counter misinformation making global headlines.

"Social media has become a coward's palace," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

"People can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people's lives, and say the most foul and offensive things to people, and do so with impunity."


Mr Morrison said if companies did not stop people from proving their identity online they would become publishers, rather than platforms.

He said it was important for a country that believed in free speech to ensure people were responsible for what they posted online.

"That issue and the technology that engages it, and lack of accountability that sits around it, is just not on," the prime minister said.

"You can expect us to be leaning even further into this."

Indigenous Qld man dies in police struggle.

An Indigenous Queensland man has died during a "violent struggle" with police that also left two officers with minor injuries.

Two other men are on the run after fleeing the scene of the incident in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, about 12.30pm on Thursday.

Officers went to a street near the heart of the regional city after a member of the public reported seeing a group of people behaving suspiciously in a vehicle.

By the time officers arrived, they had determined the Subaru was stolen, Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon told reporters.


"Upon arrival police attempted to detain the occupants of the vehicle," he said.

Two men got away. The third died at the scene.

"During an altercation with police, a 27-year-old male person became unconscious, whereby police immediately provided first aid."

Paramedics arrived quickly and continued to work on the man but he could not be revived.

The incident is being treated as a death in custody and is being investigated by the police service's Ethical Standards Command, with oversight by the state coroner and the Crime and Corruption Commission.

'Terrifying' rapist jailed for 12 years.

A Victorian man who raped two women after ambushing them while they were out walking has been jailed for more than a decade.

Justin Mathieson attacked the women, then aged 32 and 47, while they were walking along the Bay Trail, in Melbourne's southeast, in separate incidents in February and October 2012. 

Mathieson, 32, on Thursday faced the Victorian County Court, where he was jailed for a total of 12 years after pleading guilty to four counts of rape and indecent assault. 

"It is no understatement to describe your actions as every woman's worst nightmare," Judge Amanda Chambers said.

"You preyed on two women, seven months apart, for your own sexual gratification. They were entitled to be safe.

"Your serious offending was a terrifying ordeal for the victims that has had a profound and enduring impact on their lives."


Mathieson told the 32-year-old woman, whom he attacked in October 2012, that he was "really horny" and "just wanted sex". 

He also threatened to stab her with a pair of scissors if she screamed. 

She described in court the devastating impact of the attack, which led to her suffering from depression, anxiety, fatigue and social isolation. 

The other woman, then aged 47, recalled seeing Mathieson while out on a long walk with a friend.

"There was something disconcerting and creepy about him," she said.  

After her friend left a few hours later, she got a "sinking feeling" when saw him again near the Elwood Canal at night. 

Mathieson has previously been convicted for touching teenage girls on a bus and at an ice rink, the court heard. 

He must serve at least seven years and six months in prison before being eligible for parole and will be a registered sex offender for life. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

PM talks up low emissions opportunities.

Scott Morrison doesn't think regional Australia has anything to fear from a transition to a less emissions-intensive economy.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt wants the coalition to consider establishing a $250 billion loan mechanism as a last resort for mining projects that can't secure private finance. 

When asked about the proposal, the prime minister emphasised the importance of "embracing a new energy economy" ahead of the Glasgow climate summit. 

"I believe Australia can do this and ensure that the regions excel, that the regions actually exceed their current prospects, and that is done by embracing a new energy economy and the technology that is needed to support that," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. 


The government wants to be able to announce more ambitious emissions reduction targets in time for the COP26 summit from October 31, but is yet to secure agreement from the junior coalition partner. 

The Nationals have pushed for the agriculture sector to be exempt from any target. 

Mr Morrison labelled ongoing negotiations with the Nationals a "very good faith process".

The prime minister maintained Australia's contribution to tackling global warming was, on its own, relatively insignificant and developing countries needed to be involved.

He gave a further indication he would likely skip the Glasgow summit and instead send a senior minister to the United Nations talks.

"We can all go to meetings. But the thing that will actually change it is the transformation delivered by new technologies," Mr Morrison said.

Tas Libs take aim at Canberra over health.

Tasmania's acting Liberal premier says the federal government response to a plea from states and territories for more health funding has been "less than satisfactory".

Health ministers from all eight jurisdictions penned a letter in late September asking for extra Commonwealth help during the critical phase of the COVID-19 response. 

"Quite rightly all state health ministers wrote to the federal government saying we do need more support," Acting Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff, who is also the state's health minister, said on Thursday.


"We have had a less than satisfactory response back."

Mr Rockliff didn't detail the response but said state health ministers would continue to fight for more funding given the "extraordinary" pandemic circumstances.

"We have detailed our concerns when it comes to the impacts on our health system, in terms of funding, as a result of the pandemic," he said.

"We absolutely expect nothing less than our fair share.

"We will continue to advocate on behalf of our respective citizens in our respective states that we need the federal government to stump up, like the states are stumping up."

According to media reports, the letter says states and territories are under unrelenting strain due to COVID-19 demands and pre-existing trends of increased hospital activity.

Health ministers have warned the national funding model will take several years to reflect these costs, leaving it difficult to sustain the system in the meantime.

NSW risks running out of teachers says union.

NSW faces a shortage of teachers and risks running out of school staff in the next five years, internal education department documents reveal. 

The confidential audit last year found plummeting graduate teacher numbers, rising enrolments, and an ageing workforce are just some of the issues the department faces.

"We cannot improve student outcomes without having a sufficient supply of high quality teachers available where and when they are needed," an executive summary from June 2020 concludes. 

"If we don't address supply gaps now, we will run out of teachers in the next five years.


"NSW public schools have a high proportion of out-of-field teachers, which impacts student outcomes."

The teachers' union says the government has not heeded the warning. 

"These documents show the government has been fully aware of the worsening staffing crisis and has betrayed teachers, parents, principals and students by repeatedly denying the seriousness of the problems instead of addressing them," NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said. 

On average, about 44 per cent of secondary schools and 23 per cent of primary schools surveyed had a temporary or permanent teacher vacancy.

Ex-Nazi camp guard aged 100, to go on trial.

A 100-year-old man is going on trial in Germany accused of being an accessory to murder for serving as a Nazi SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin during World War II.

The trial of the defendant, who is charged with 3518 counts of accessory to murder, is being held at the Neuruppin state court, which moved the proceedings to a prison sport hall in Brandenburg for organisational reasons.

The court has not disclosed the name of the suspect. He is alleged to have worked at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party's paramilitary wing.

Authorities say that despite his advanced age, the suspect is considered fit enough to stand trial, though the number of hours per day the court is in session may have to be limited.


More than 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labour and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing.

Exact numbers on those killed vary, with upper estimates of some 100,000, though scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.

Around the world.

- A report by the US Senate Judiciary Committee's Democratic majority details Donald Trump's extraordinary effort to undo the vote and exert his will on the department in a bid to have them declare the election 'corrupt.' 

Mr Trump's actions led to a near-revolt at department headquarters that receded only after senior officials warned of a mass resignation.

- Police have reportedly found a “fresh campsite” in their search for Brian Laundrie in Carlton Reserve in Florida as the fugitive’s dad agreed to join the manhunt.

- With AAP

Feature image: Darrian Traynor/Getty/Lisa Maree Williams/Facebook.

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