The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday November 18.

South Australia to shut down for six days.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall has announced further restrictions in the state in an effort to control a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

The state will go into lockdown for six days, followed by another eight days of continuing restrictions.

"We need this circuit breaker, this community pause. We are at a critical point, but we will get through this," Marshall said.

From midnight all schools will close along with universities, pubs, cafes and food courts.

Regional travel will be banned and aged care centres will go into lockdown.

Factories will close, along with the construction industry.

Weddings and funerals will be banned. All outdoor sport and exercise will be banned, and masks will be mandatory outside the home.

According to South Australia's Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, the coronavirus cluster in the city's north has grown by two cases to 22.

Seven more people are currently awaiting test results.

Troops prepare for Adelaide virus battle.

Federal authorities are keeping a close eye on Adelaide's coronavirus cluster, with more troops preparing to travel to South Australia.

There have been 11,000 tests conducted in the state over the past two days.


Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has praised South Australians for getting tested, encouraging people without symptoms to also be checked for coronavirus.

SA Health has linked more than a dozen schools, supermarkets, cafes and hotels to its growing outbreak, with a number of new hotspot locations announced last night. 

Mr Hunt said there were 100 Australian Defence Force troops on the ground in South Australia, with authorities meeting to map out how much extra support was needed. 

They will be deployed immediately after decisions are made.

Mr Hunt said states had been advised by the national panel of medical experts to increase screening for arrivals from Adelaide.

But Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and WA have slammed the gates shut on South Australia.

NSW and Victoria - which has now gone 18 days without new coronavirus infections or deaths - have increased screening for Adelaide arrivals.

Victorian sexual assault survivors finally free to tell their own stories.

From today, Victorian survivors of sexual assault will once again have ownership of their own stories. They will be able to speak up for themselves and others or to speak out against their offender.


For the last eight months, these men and women have been prevented from telling their stories through the press or social media using their real names courtesy of a controversial law introduced by Victorian Government.

In February 2020, in their effort to bolster the law, the Victorian Government made it an offence for survivors of sexual assault to publish their own identities (by telling their story via social media, for example) without first obtaining a court order.

But following a concerted, coordinated campaign called #LetUsSpeak, that's all due to change. 

From Wednesday, the changes will not only be scrapped, but Victorian sexual assault survivors will have more agency than before.

Read the full story here. 

US to slash troop levels in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4500 to 2500 before he leaves office, the Pentagon has announced, stopping short of the complete withdrawal Trump threatened to carry out by Christmas.

Trump's decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday and has triggered warnings from critics who say it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.

Listen: What's the worst President Trump can do?

Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller, who Trump installed last week after firing Mark Esper, confirmed the drawdown and also outlined a modest withdrawal of forces in Iraq that will reduce troop levels there from 3000 to 2500.


Moments later, the top Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, warned against any major changes in US defence or foreign policy in the next couple of months, including major troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US and Afghan officials are warning of troubling levels of violence by Taliban insurgents and persistent Taliban links to al-Qaeda.

It was those ties that triggered US military intervention in 2001 following the al-Qaeda September 11 attacks on the United States. Thousands of American and allied troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan since then.

System failed slain Vic woman, family says.

The grief-stricken family of slain Melbourne woman Celeste Manno claims the system failed to protect her after her alleged murder at the hands of an infatuated former co-worker.

Ms Manno, 23, was found dead in a home at Mernda, to the city's northeast, about 4.10am on Monday. 

A 35-year-old man, believed to be known to her, was arrested and taken to hospital where he remains under police guard.

Ms Manno's devastated family said the alleged killer previously worked at the same Mill Park call centre she did.

"One of her team members got fired and she wasn't close with him at all," brother Alessandro told reporters.

"But just to give him some support she just walked him out the door and ever since that day he's just been obsessed with her."

They'd even resorted to filing restraining orders as the online harassment mounted, with father Tony telling the media the system let his daughter down.

"It's got to be changed," he said. "It doesn't bring her back but it's got to be changed.


"What's it going to take for the government to listen. It could be yours (daughter). It's not right. It's got to stop." 

READ: Her name was Celeste. She is the 45th woman to be killed by violence in Australia in 2020.

Australia-Japan pact boosts stability: PM.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says China shouldn't fear the signing of a landmark defence treaty between Australia and Japan.

Mr Morrison met with Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo on Tuesday, becoming the first world leader to meet with the new prime minister on Japanese soil since he took over from Shinzo Abe.

Mr Morrison and Mr Suga signed the Reciprocal Access Agreement that streamlines each country's use of the other's military bases.

The agreement needs to be ratified by parliament.

If finalised, it would be the first pact by Japan to allow a foreign military presence on its soil after a similar 1960 accord with the United States.

"This is a significant evolution of this relationship, but there is no reason for that to cause any concern elsewhere in the region," Mr Morrison said.

"I think it adds to the stability of the region, which is a good thing."

The RAA has been under negotiation since 2014 with the major sticking point being concerns that an Australian serviceman or woman could face the death penalty if convicted of murder or other serious offences on Japanese territory.

Asked how this issue had been "ironed out", Mr Morrison didn't specify, but said Australia would "meet all of its obligations under its international agreements".

NSW government looking to scrap upfront stamp duty fees.

A NSW government proposal allowing homebuyers to pay an annual levy in lieu of stamp duty is an example of tax reform that could benefit all Australians, the state treasurer says.


An average NSW property comes with an up-front $34,000 stamp duty requirement, which takes most people two-and-a-half years to save.

When releasing the 2020/21 budget on Tuesday, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet described the impost as "a relic from a bygone era", adding the climate was right for states to work with the Commonwealth on overhauling some tax systems.

The NSW proposal, which will be open for public feedback until March, would replace stamp duty with an annual tax based on land value, to help more people enter the market.

The government said it could save a buyer $20,000 over the first four years of home ownership.

Trump lawyers withdraw from more vote cases.

Three more lawyers representing US President Donald Trump's campaign have asked to withdraw from his lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's election results on the eve of a major court hearing.

Linda Kerns, John Scott and Douglas Bryan Hughes made the request in a court filing on Monday, adding that the campaign consented to their withdrawal.

In a brief order on Monday night, the judge hearing the case allowed Scott and Hughes to withdraw but not Kerns.


Harrisburg-based lawyer Marc Scaringi has joined the case and will be Trump's lead counsel. He and the three attorneys who sought to withdraw did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A federal judge in Williamsport will hear arguments on Tuesday in the suit, filed on November 9, which seeks to stop Pennsylvania's top election official certifying Joe Biden the winner.

The Trump campaign is filing lawsuits that are "borderline frivolous" and will not change the election's outcome even if successful, said Bruce Green, a professor of legal ethics at Fordham Law School.

Pandemic sees unpaid overtime skyrocket.

New research suggests the average Australian employee worked seven weeks of unpaid overtime during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australia's Institute's annual Go Home on Time Day report found despite total work-hours falling and much of the workforce shifting to 'work from home', Australians are currently putting in an average 5.25 hours of unpaid work each week.

Economist report Dan Nahum, who authored the report which surveyed more than 1600 workers, said it suggested workplaces were adopting an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to their duty of care to workers.

Around the world.

- If US drug giant Pfizer gets its vaccine approved, Australia's 10 million doses will be sent in special suitcase-sized containers cooled at sub-zero temperatures of -70C.

- Health data from several countries including India, Italy, Belgium and Germany suggests the rate of new coronavirus infections may be slowing down while restrictions remain in place. 

- Police have fired off tear gas in Greece to break up banned gatherings on the anniversary of a 1973 student uprising against the military junta then ruling the country.

- A suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has suffered two broken ribs in an incident at a German court.

- 41 people have been injured during protests in Thailand's capital Bangkok between anti-government protesters, Thai police and royalist groups.

- With AAP

Feature image: Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/PM's Office of Japan/Kelly Barnes/Getty.