The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday April 22.

New cases in hotel quarantine spark NSW virus search.

NSW health authorities are on the lookout for more local COVID-19 cases after the virus jumped across rooms in a Sydney hotel quarantine facility.

NSW Health said in a statement on Wednesday that three returned travellers have come down with the same South African COVID-19 variant strain, indicating a quarantine breach may have occurred.

Two of the three were family members and stayed in connecting rooms on the 10th floor of the Mercure Hotel on George St in Sydney's CBD, while the third person was staying in another adjacent room.

The three people arrived on the same flight on April 3.

NSW Health said it was contacting returned travellers who had been staying on the same floor of the hotel between April 7 and April 12.

Those people will be directed to get tested and self-isolate until 14 days after they left quarantine at the Mercure Hotel, as will relevant hotel staff.

Health authorities also said that a separate case of COVID-19 transmission between hotel rooms of the Adina Apartment Hotel at Town Hall was ongoing, and all contacts located so far have tested negative.

Two returned travellers contract COVID-19 in WA hotel quarantine.

Two returned travellers have contracted COVID-19 in hotel quarantine in Perth, sparking an investigation into the source of the infections. 

The WA Health Department had previously reported the infections as being acquired overseas. But genome sequencing has since confirmed transmission occurred at the Mercure Hotel Perth.


"The virus was transmitted in hotel quarantine at the Mercure Hotel Perth, as two sets of guests, in rooms opposite each other, had the same sequence of virus - despite arriving from different countries at different times," it said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Other guests who stayed on the same sixth floor at the same time were previously released from the hotel after testing negative.

China angered by Australia's "provocative" decision. 

China has slammed Australia's "provocative" decision to tear up Victoria's Belt and Road Initiative agreement with Beijing, warning the move will further damage bilateral relations.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced on Wednesday night that the infrastructure deal had been cancelled under new foreign veto powers.

China's embassy in Australia responded swiftly, expressing "strong displeasure and resolute opposition" to Senator Payne's announcement.


"This is another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China," a Chinese embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

"It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations. 

"It is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself."

The Morrison government in December granted itself the ability to torpedo deals between individual states and foreign powers under the Foreign Relations Act.

The foreign minister can assess such arrangements to check if they align with Australia's foreign policy goals.

Senator Payne said four agreements would be cancelled, two of which related to Victoria's Belt and Road deal for infrastructure investment.

"I consider these four arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations," she said in a statement.

China has in the past 12 months launched a series of damaging trade strikes against Australia after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chinese government also remains furious with Australia over foreign interference and investment laws and the decision to ban Huawei from the country's 5G rollout.

PM announces $565m for climate tech deals.

Another half a billion dollar cheque has been written by the Morrison government to help Australia foster international partnerships on clean energy technology.

It's the latest climate-related budget announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he gears up to take part in a summit organised by US President Joe Biden.

It brings together the world's biggest polluters in a bid to ramp up global climate action.


Mr Morrison has on Thursday announced $565.8 million to co-fund research and demonstration projects in low-emissions technologies.

Former chief scientist Alan Finkel will lead work on fostering international collaborations as part of his new gig spruiking the government's climate action on the world stage.

The government is focused on Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, the UK and the US.

Mr Morrison hopes the funding creates up to 2,500 jobs and says for each dollar of taxpayer money invested $3 to $5 will be leveraged through the international partnerships.

Baby and man fall to death at SA dam wall.

A baby girl and a man have fallen to their deaths from a dam wall in South Australia.

Witnesses reported seeing the man and infant go over the edge of the Whispering Wall at Williamstown, north of Adelaide, on Wednesday afternoon.

The man was found dead when police arrived, while paramedics were unable to save the baby girl.

The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, with the 36-metre high structure built between 1899 and 1903.


The popular tourist attraction was bestowed its name as words whispered on one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away.

Local detectives and forensic crime scene investigators have attended the scene to examine the circumstances of the incident. 

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Man accused of Gold Coast murder spoken to by police 48 hours earlier.

Brian Earl Johnson, 34, the accused murderer of Gold Coast mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson has been transferred to the burns unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane where he remains under police guard. 

Ms Wilkinson was found dead in a Gold Coast back yard on Tuesday morning. Johnston was arrested just two blocks from the Arundel property, suffering burns to his hands and possibly his airway.

After a brief mention in court on Wednesday, lawyer Chris Hannay said Johnston was "in a pretty bad way". 


Mr Hannay had met with Johnson on Sunday, less than 48 hours before he allegedly attacked and murdered Ms Wilkinson. 

"On Sunday, I got some instructions from him in relation to some other fairly serious matters that he has been charged with, and I haven't spoken to him since," Mr Hannay said. 

Johnson did not appear distressed or agitated for the weekend conference, Mr Hannay said.

"Not really, he was pretty coherent. We took suitable instructions. He was there with a colleague of his," Mr Hannay said. 

"We went through a whole lot of things about the domestic violence issues with the DV and the kids and the family. Obviously, no one expected this to happen, but everyone thought that they were just chugging along as a normal process."

The family of Hannah Clarke, who was murdered alongside her three children in a car fire lit by her estranged husband in 2020, have shared their condolences with Kelly's family.

READ: One year. Two women. A brutal crime.

Ms Clarke’s father Lloyd said Ms Wilkinson’s death brought back demons.

"We’re still struggling with things and this doesn’t help, and it’s just not good enough," he told 4BC.

"These three children are now motherless... I’m lost for words not knowing what has happened and what’s gone on. It should have never gotten to this stage."

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Brittany Higgins will push PM for changes.

Brittany Higgins plans to push Scott Morrison for changes to workplace culture in Parliament House when the two meet as early as next week.

The former Liberal staffer, who alleges she was raped by a colleague in a federal minister's office two years ago, has accepted an invitation to meet with the prime minister.

"This decision wasn't made lightly," Ms Higgins said on Wednesday.


"However, things cannot be improved unless people are willing to come together and speak plainly about these difficult issues."

Ms Higgins said it was disappointing she had not heard from the prime minister's office since they initially made contact on April 6.

"I'm hopeful the meeting will proceed," she said.

"After two months, a national protest and countless other horrifying stories, the time for action is now."

Mr Morrison said organising the meeting was "in process" and claimed his staff heard from Ms Higgins last week.

Ohio police shoot Black girl, 16, dead.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, have shot and killed a Black teenage girl after confronting her while responding to a report of an attempted stabbing, according to authorities and the youngster's family.

The shooting on Tuesday in a neighbourhood on the city's southeast side happened to coincide with the announcement of the guilty verdict by a Minneapolis jury against a former police officer charged with murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck during an arrest last year.

Releasing police body-camera video of the shooting in Ohio's capital hours later, interim Columbus police chief Michael Woods said officers involved were answering an emergency call from someone who reported an attempted stabbing.

Image: Facebook.

Police arriving at the home encountered a chaotic scene of several people on the front lawn of a dwelling where the female youth, seen brandishing what appeared to be knife, was charging toward another female who fell backwards, the video showed.


A police officer then opened fire on the youth as she collapsed against a car parked in the driveway. The video then shows what appears to be a kitchen knife lying on the pavement near the teenager.

Family members have identified her as Makiyah Bryant, aged 16. The officer who opened fire was not identified. The chief said he "would be taken off the street" pending an investigation.

US launches probe into Minneapolis police as Floyd's family celebrate victory.

The US Justice Department has launched a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis after former city police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

The probe is the first major action of Attorney General Merrick Garland, after President Joe Biden vowed to address systemic racism in the United States. 

It will consider whether the department engages "in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests," he said.


He added it will also examine whether the department "engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioural health disabilities is unlawful."

Chauvin's conviction was a milestone in the fraught racial history of the United States and a rebuke of law enforcement's treatment of black Americans. Floyd's death was one in a long list of police killings that prompted nationwide protests.

At a joyous press conference, Floyd's mother Philonise said she had been getting messages from around the world.

"They're all saying the same thing," she said. "We won't be able to breathe until you're able to breathe. Today, we are able to breathe again."


Floyd's brother Terrence said, "History is here. This is monumental. What a day to be a Floyd, man."

Ash Barty back to winning ways in Europe.

Ash Barty has made a successful return to the clay courts of Europe after a near two-year absence – and reckons the experience had brought a smile to her face.

The Australian world No.1 defeated tough German Laura Siegemund on her first match on the indoor clay at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart to set up a quarter-final clash with either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko.

She was given a belated test by the event's former champion Siegemund before wrapping up an accomplished 6-0 7-5 second-round victory on Wednesday.

And after overcoming her first hurdle on a European clay court since her French Open triumph at Roland Garros in 2019, Barty reckoned: "Whoever I play next, either way, I'll come out here and try to bring the match on my terms – but do it with a smile on my face again."

Police and families mark Victoria freeway tragedy.

A call for a minute's silence will sound through police radios across Victoria to mark the first anniversary of a horror crash on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway.


Leading Senior Constable Lynnette Taylor, 60, Senior Constable Kevin King, 50, and constables Glen Humphris, 32, and Josh Prestney, 28, were killed while on duty on the Eastern Freeway at Kew on April 22, 2020.

The crash was the single greatest loss of life in Victoria Police's history, with the truck driver responsible jailed last week for a maximum of 22 years. 

Twelve months on, the fallen officers' families, friends and colleagues will on Thursday pay tribute to them in a ceremony at Glen Waverley's Victoria Police Academy chapel.

The service will feature the laying of four wreaths and a minute's silence, with a message to be broadcast over police radio for force members to follow suit at end of the event and at 5.36pm when the crash occurred.

Around the world.

- President Vladimir Putin has warned the West not to cross Russia's "red lines", saying Moscow would respond swiftly and harshly to any provocations and those responsible would regret it.

- 22 patients on ventilators have died in a hospital in western India after their oxygen was interrupted by a leak in a supply line.

- The Queen in her first public remarks since the death of Prince Philip, says she has been touched by all the tributes that have been paid to him.

 With AAP.

Feature Image: Sam Mooy/Getty/ Twitter @ashbarty/ Instagram @Paula Bryant.