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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday August 19.

Morrison: COVID-19 vaccine will be as "mandatory as possible". 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he intends to make a COVID-19 vaccine “as mandatory as possible” for all Australians once it becomes available.

Speaking to 3AW’s Neil Mitchell this morning, Morrison said that vaccination needed to get to about 95 per cent of the population.

“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it. There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis," he said. 

"I mean we’re talking about a pandemic that has destroyed you know, the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 450 Australians here. We need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal."

When a vaccine is approved, every Australian will have access for free. Image: Getty/Sam Mooy. 

Scott Morrison has put Australia's hand up for a coronavirus vaccine being trialled by Oxford University and British drug company AstraZeneca.

Under the deal, Australia would make and supply the vaccine - should it prove safe and effective - and provide it free to all Australians.

"The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Morrison admitted there was no guarantee the vaccine would be successful, so the government was continuing talks with other parties as well as backing Australian researchers.

The letter of intent with AstraZeneca, and a needle and syringe contract with Becton Dickinson, are the first announcements under a national COVID-19 vaccine and treatment strategy.

The vaccine strategy is expected to be worth billions of dollars, with the Prime Minister hopeful a vaccine could be rolled out in Australia by "early 2021". 

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NSW security guard tests positive at Sydney quarantine hotel.

NSW Health officials have pledged to leave "no rock unturned" as they hunt for any cases linked to a security guard at a Sydney quarantine hotel who tested positive to COVID-19.

But the state's chief health officer Kerry Chant played down fears of a Victorian-style quarantine breach at the Marriott Hotel in Circular Quay, saying: "I think it's important that we keep a perspective on this."

Genome sequencing has linked the guard's infection to a returned traveller who was in quarantine at the Marriott and tested positive on August 2.

Dr Chant says the guard worked at Sydney's Flemington Markets and Parramatta Local Court while infectious.

"The exact nature of how that infection could have been acquired is a matter that's under intense investigation," Dr Chant said on Tuesday.

NSW recorded three new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, the lowest daily number in more than a month.

Two of the new cases, from southwest Sydney, were locally acquired. The other is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

From today, formals, dances, graduation ceremonies, choirs and all social events have been banned at NSW public schools, and schools must not travel outside their local community or zone.

Andrews urging people to get tested as "patient zero" family found.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says lower testing rates might be a barrier to Victoria moving forward in its COVID-19 fight despite the state's smallest rise in cases in a month.

The Victorian government is calling on residents not to slacken off on coronavirus testing following a 17 per cent drop over the past week.

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"We don't want that to be an inhibitor in any way of moving to a new phase and a new set of rules," he said.

"We have to have that confidence that we are getting a complete or as close to a complete picture as we possibly can."

Victoria recorded 222 new cases on Tuesday, and 17 deaths. On Wednesday 216 new cases have been identified with 12 new fatalities confirmed. 

A family of four allowed outside their Rydges Hotel room for walks has been identified as the source of almost all of Victoria's second wave infections, reports The Australian. 

Within a week of the family's arrival on May 15, two security guards and an employee had the virus. 

Prince Charles' message to Victorians: "You are so much in our special thoughts."

The Prince of Wales has recorded a message to Victorians sharing, "I have always felt a special fondness for Victoria, having spent six very happy months there at school 54 years ago."

The 71-year-old heir to the British throne praised Victorians for their tenacity and resilience having been confronted with both a horror bushfire season and the coronavirus pandemic in such quick succession.

"I realise this capacity has been sorely tested this year which has surely been a tremendously difficult one for Australia and especially, if I may say so, for Victoria. 


"I can only imagine just how incredibly hard it must be for you all, having had such early success in combating the virus, you now find yourselves in the midst of this second wave with all of its heartbreaking consequences."

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He added: "To all of you, I just wanted to say on behalf of my wife and myself that you are so much in our special thoughts at what I can imagine is a tremendously testing and frustrating time."

China targets Aussie wine in trade dispute.

China has launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine as diplomatic relations between the two nations continue to sour.

The inquiry will look into whether Australian winemakers dumped cheap bottles of wine into China over a five-year period, drowning out local producers.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham described confirmation of the inquiry as "a very disappointing and perplexing development".

"Australian wine is not sold at below market prices and exports are not subsidised," Senator Birmingham said.

China is Australia's largest trading partner. But the relationship has been heavily strained by disputes over coronavirus, territorial claims in the South China Sea, Beijing's security crackdown on Hong Kong and the decision to ban Huawei from Australia's 5G network.

China recently imposed tariffs on Australian barley, suspended some beef imports and warned students and tourists it was not safe to travel to Australia because of allegations of racism.

Hannah Clarke's family call for stronger DV laws on the six month anniversary of her death. 

Today marks six months since Hannah Clarke and her three children were murdered on a suburban Brisbane street by their husband and father. 

The Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation, which was created in their honour, has announced it will work with offenders as they push for stronger domestic violence laws in Australia. 

Wednesday August 19th marks six months since the murders of Hannah Clarke and her children. Image: Facebook.

"Perpetrators are still human. Maybe if we can get into their minds and find out why — why they need to go so far with this — and be able to turn things around," Hannah's father Lloyd told the ABC.

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The Foundation will also soon start lobbying for coercive control to be recognised as a criminal offence.

Michelle Obama's scathing criticism, and Trump's response. 

Former first lady Michelle Obama has launched a scathing attack on President Donald Trump on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, calling him the "wrong president" for the country and urging Americans to elect Joe Biden in November to end the "chaos" created by Trump's presidency.

Obama said Biden's steady and empathetic approach to problems was the answer and urged voters to stand in line or do whatever it takes to ensure they can beat Trump.

"Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy," Obama said, adding Trump was "in over his head" as president.

Michelle Obama gave a blistering speech about Trump at the Democratic National Convention. Image: Getty/DNCC.

"So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don't make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."

Trump replied to Obama's criticism by saying: "Well she's in over her head, and frankly, she should've made the speech live, which she didn't do."

He also unleashed in a thread on Twitter writing "Somebody please explain to Michelle Obama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren’t for the job done by your husband, Barack Obama."

He also accused the Obama administration of being "the most corrupt in history" and spying on his campaign.

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Ghislaine Maxwell monitored 24 hours a day by psychologists.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein who is accused of grooming and abusing underaged girls, is being monitored by jail psychologists for several hours a day without her knowledge.

In a court filing, Maxwell's attorneys said the former British socialite is isolated, under 24-hour video surveillance and subjected to constant observation by multiple guards when "no other pretrial detainee is receiving such treatment."

Maxwell's lawyers claim their client is being treated unfairly in prison while she awaits trial. Image: Patrick McMullan/Getty.

The 58-year-old was arrested on July 2 and charged with recruiting, grooming and abusing three alleged victims. 

The increased security is in response to the death by suicide of Epstein who died in his prison cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges. 

Maxwell's lawyers are arguing that her current conditions are unfair. As well as the increased surveillance, she reportedly only has 30 minutes of phone calls a month compared to everyone else's 500 minutes, she doesn't have a desk or surface to review evidence for her case and she was recently denied access to the jail's commissary. 

Around the world.

- Face masks are to become mandatory in all French workplaces, with more than 2000 new cases confirmed on Tuesday. 

- India's interior minister has been hospitalised with COVID-19, as the country's cases reach 2.7 million. 

- Former journalist Chrystia Freeland has become Canada's first female finance minister.

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty.

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