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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday October 5.

Outage hits Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were offline for users across the globe for a few hours this morning.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the issue affecting the services but the error message on the webpage of Facebook Inc suggested a problem with Domain Name System (DNS).

DNS allows web addresses to take users to their destinations.

A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies Inc took down multiple websites in July.

Facebook's internal systems used by employees also went down, the Associated Press reported.

Regarding the internal failures, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted that it feels like a "snow day".

Security experts tracking the situation said the outage could have been triggered by a configuration error, which could be the result of an internal mistake although sabotage by an insider would be theoretically possible.

An outside hack was viewed as less likely.

A massive denial-of-service attack that could overwhelm one of the world's most popular sites, on the other hand, would require either coordination among powerful criminal groups or a very innovative technique.

with AP

Conservative Perrottet secures NSW top job 39 votes to 5.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has been crowned NSW premier after Liberal MPs voted him in to take the place of Gladys Berejiklian.

Mr Perrottet - from the NSW Liberal's right faction - faced Planning Minister Rob Stokes - a moderate - in a party room vote for the leadership at 10am on Tuesday. 

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He won 39 votes to 5.

Ms Berejiklian quit on Friday after the state's corruption watchdog disclosed she was under investigation for potential breaches of public trust given her secret five-year relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire.

Long touted as the premier-in-waiting, the treasurer on Sunday struck a deal with his moderate colleagues to make Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres his deputy and promote Environment Minister Matt Kean to treasurer.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning Minister Rob Stokes have both put their hand up to be the new NSW Premier. The new leader will be decided in a party room vote today. #9Today pic.twitter.com/5MKl6xnWng

— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) October 4, 2021

But Planning Minister Rob Stokes refused to back down.

The Pittwater MP has offered himself as a more experienced alternative to 39-year-old Mr Perrottet, arguing he was the party's best shot at winning the 2023 election.

Mr Perrottet on Monday played up his credentials working alongside Ms Berejiklian as deputy leader, and argued for stability.

"As Gladys demonstrated so well, leading a successful Liberal and National government requires unity across our party's 'broad church'," he wrote in an opinion piece published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday.

"We can only do that if we remain united, and maintain stability and continuity for the people of our state."

Over the weekend, some of Perrottet's conservative views started circulating on social media, revealing the likely new Premier's stance on gay marriage, free speech, borders and climate change.

Dominic Perrottet in 2016, following the election of Donald Trump #nswpol pic.twitter.com/kG4jhP6r47

— Gavin Coote (@GavinCoote) October 2, 2021

The NSW government will have an entirely fresh leadership team by Wednesday, after Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro announced he too would quit parliament.

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As we emerge from lockdown, we must embrace this time as a new beginning for our State, and welcome the opportunity it presents for a refresh.

I have decided now is the right time for me to hand the reins over to new leadership, and resign as Deputy Premier of NSW. pic.twitter.com/MeWBWMR38P

— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) October 3, 2021

Paul Toole and Adam Marshall are expected to join Melinda Pavey in a three-way race to fill his position, with a party room vote due Wednesday.

Deborah Knight calls out "cruel, heartless people" after mother-in-law's death from COVID-19.

Broadcaster Deborah Knight has called out coronavirus conspiracy theorists for their “appalling” and “cruel” response to the death of her mother-in-law from COVID-19.

Connie Dunbar died on Sunday night at the age of 88, after contracting the virus at her nursing home in Canberra. 

On her 2GB radio show, Knight described her mother-in-law as "a wonderful, wonderful woman."

"Behind every single death, and behind every single number is a grieving family," she said, while pleading with listeners to get vaccinated.

But on Monday evening, she tweeted, "My husband has lost his dear Mum to Covid and some cruel heartless people are questioning if it’s a hoax or if she even had the virus as she was double vaccinated. Appalling."

'Pandora Papers': Files link world leaders to secret funds.

Leaked financial documents published by major news organisations allegedly tie world leaders to secret stores of wealth, including King Abdullah of Jordan, associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and celebrities like Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr.

The dump of more than 11.9 million records, amounting to about 2.94 terabytes of data, came five years after the leak known as the "Panama Papers" exposed how money was hidden by the wealthy in ways that law enforcement agencies could not detect.

The new cache of documents has been dubbed the Pandora Papers. The documents span five decades, with most created between 1996 and 2020. 

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a Washington, DC-based network of reporters and media organisations, said the files are linked to about 35 current and former national leaders, and more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories.

Offshore investments were also linked to Bollywood actors, soccer stars, corrupt sports officials, movie directors and stars, supermodels, acclaimed designers and world famous singers.

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There are hundreds of Australians named in the leak. They include a prominent board member, a criminal and several small business owners. 

More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet.

The ABC reports around 10 per cent of the world's total economic output is parked in offshore financial centres, costing governments billions of dollars in lost revenue that could be spent on schools, hospitals and roads.

Vaccinations on track for 80 per cent mark with new drug on the way.

Australia is on track to achieve 80 per cent vaccination of people over 16 by mid-November, as the government secures supplies of promising new treatments.

The latest national vaccine data points to the 80 per cent first-dose threshold being broken on Tuesday or Wednesday, with the current full dose rate of 56.9 per cent tracking towards 80 per cent within five weeks.

"It's a critical milestone," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

As the preventative program rolls on, the Morrison government is looking at the treatment side of the equation, closing a deal for 300,000 courses of an antiviral pill showing promising signs of slashing COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations.

Molnupiravir is still being trialled in the US and is yet to gain regulatory authorisation.

But a deal has been reached with pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme to supply 300,000 courses should the pill be given by green light by Australia's medicines regulator.

It could be made available as early as the first quarter of 2022.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the drug would join other COVID-19 treatments including sotrovimab and remdesivir already available in Australia.

Construction workers return in Victoria.

Tradies are ready to get back on the tools as a pause on construction is lifted across Melbourne and other locked down areas. 

Construction workers can return to worksites on Tuesday, after a two-week shutdown, as long as they meet strict safeguards and have at least had their first coronavirus vaccination.

The industry-wide mandate, and other restrictions brought in to curb transmission, sparked a protest outside the CFMEU's Melbourne headquarters on September 20, the day the state government announced the sector would down tools for a fortnight-long reset.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said tens of thousands of construction workers had since come forward to meet the first-dose requirement, but could not say what proportion of the industry is now vaccinated.

He said the building industry was ready for Tuesday's restart, having learned a "hard lesson" and reflected on compliance issues with masks and tearooms.

Victoria reported 1377 new local cases - the fifth day in a row of four-figure infections - and four deaths on Monday, taking the toll for the current outbreak to 53.

Melbourne became the world's most locked-down city on Monday, chalking up 246 days living under stay-at-home orders to surpass the record set by the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires.

NSW looks to case drop as surgery resumes.

Many NSW private hospitals are restarting non-urgent surgery as the state hopes for another day of declining COVID-19 infections.

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On Monday, the state recorded 623 new local cases of COVID-19, the lowest since late August and the third day in a row with fewer than 700 fresh cases.

Day surgeries, which were cancelled in late August due to the pandemic, will resume at 19 private hospitals from Tuesday, but non-urgent surgery at public hospitals remains postponed.

There are currently 959 people in hospital with COVID-19 in NSW, with 193 in intensive care, and 97 people on ventilators.

Six people died of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, bringing the toll for the current outbreak to 378 deaths.

In regional NSW, stay-at-home orders are underway for the Lismore local government area and the town of Casino.

Gunnedah has also gone into lockdown, after five new cases in the area were detected. Anyone who has been in the local government area since September 27 must also isolate.

While Port Macquarie will be freed from lockdown from Wednesday morning, nearby Forster, Tuncurry and Taree have returned to stay-at-home orders.

But the state is nearing its 70 per cent double dose vaccination target, which should trigger an easing of restrictions.

ACT set for contact tracing overhaul.

The ACT is set to move away from publishing every venue a COVID-positive case has visited, as the territory gets set to emerge from lockdown.

Health authorities have said there would be a point in time where not every exposure site in Canberra would be published online, with vaccination rates in the ACT increasing.

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It comes as ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman will provide on Tuesday a major update on the COVID-19 outbreak in Canberra, which has now surpassed 1000 cases.

Tuesday will also see a return to the classroom for some ACT students, with year 12 students able to return but only for practical classes and assessments, along with some year 11 students.

The ACT reported 28 new cases of COVID on Monday, half of those being linked to known cases.

A further two deaths were recorded, both women in their 80s, taking the death toll from the current outbreak in Canberra to five and the total since the pandemic began to eight.

Mr Barr said he expected the ACT to reach a 95 per cent vaccination rate, based on the current trajectory.

WA vaccine dodgers to face 'consequences'.

West Australians who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are being warned they will eventually face consequences amid "troubling" hesitancy in some areas.

Almost half of West Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, while about two-thirds have had at least one dose.

WA's continued border closures have helped prevent major outbreaks but acted as a disincentive against vaccination for those happy to remain isolated.

Health Minister Roger Cook on Monday again refused to nominate a reopening date, only saying it would be "towards the end of the year" when it's hoped more than 80 per cent of West Australians will have had two jabs.

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But he warned some freedoms could be stripped from those who refused to cooperate.

Authorities are keeping a close eye on the Stolt Sakura oil tanker docked in Fremantle after 12 of its 22 crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

Six of the crew have been taken to hospital in Perth, including two who are in intensive care in a serious but stable condition.

More than 150 passengers who boarded a Virgin flight from Adelaide to Perth last week are meanwhile being asked to isolate and get tested after South Australian authorities listed Adelaide Airport as a COVID-19 exposure site.

Tasmania virus case visited supermarket.

A teenager in northern Tasmania who tested positive to coronavirus left home quarantine, likely while infectious, to go to a supermarket.

The 15-year-old boy flew into Launceston from Melbourne on Friday and quarantined at a family home before returning a positive test on Saturday.

Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff told reporters on Monday the teenager visited an IGA in the Launceston suburb of Newnham with his cousin on Saturday afternoon.

The supermarket has been declared an exposure site and anyone who visited between 2:20pm and 2:45pm has been asked to get tested and isolate.

The teenager, who wasn't wearing a mask, was in the shop for a few minutes.

Two other people, who on Friday night visited the house where the teen and his family are staying, are also now in quarantine.

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It is Tasmania's second case this year, after an NSW traveller tested positive while in hotel quarantine in August.

COVID-19 restrictions for Mt Gambier in SA.

Tough new restrictions have been introduced for Mt Gambier and two other council areas in South Australia after a woman tested positive to COVID-19. 

The restrictions, which came into place from 4pm on Monday, are expected to be in force for at least seven days, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

Areas affected include Mount Gambier City, District Council of Grant and Wattle Range Council in the state's southeast.

It comes after a woman in her 40s, from Mount Gambier, tested positive to coronavirus.

It is believed she spent time in Victoria.

There are no public exposure sites at the moment. 

The state government also announced that the cross border community bubble will be reduced and testing and vaccination requirements will be introduced. 

Queensland records new mystery virus case.

Health authorities in Queensland are working to determine the source of a new mystery virus case who has been infectious in the community for 10 days.

The woman in her 50s was active in Brisbane's northern suburbs, and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says she has no known links to existing cases or exposure sites.

All of her household members have so far tested negative, and Dr Young said she had received both vaccination doses. 

New contact tracing locations, including a number of massage parlours, have been listed for Redcliffe, Cannon Hill, Slacks Creek, Boondall, Bracken Ridge, Chermside and Archerfield.

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Meanwhile, a lack of real-time data from Queensland public hospitals is making it difficult to plan for potential outbreaks when the state opens to the rest of the country, a group of medical professionals has warned.

While some data is available, emergency physician Kim Hansen said she couldn't see the ward beds available in her hospital, nor throughout the entire health system.

Hillsong founder due to face Sydney court.

Hillsong founder and pastor Brian Houston is due to face a Sydney court accused of concealing his father's alleged child abuse.

The 67-year-old denies the offence, promising when charged in August to "set the record straight".

"These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I've always been about this matter," he said in August.

The case - listed before a registrar in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday morning - centres on an allegation Houston knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.

NSW Police investigated the matter for two years after the allegation was raised in media and the institutional child abuse royal commission.

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Since being charged, Houston has stepped down from the board of Hillsong, the church he founded with wife Bobbie in Sydney's Hills District in 1983.

Now a global empire, the church claims 150,000 people in 30 countries attend its services and 50 million people sing its songs each week.

Possible sighting of Brian Laundrie by hiker.

A US hiker claims he saw Gabbie Petito's missing partner Brian Laundrie driving along the Appalachian Trail. 

He was making a U-turn and stopped to talk to the driver of the car behind him.

Speaking to Fox News, Dennis Davis says he only realised who the man was after leaving the encounter. 

"I could tell right away that something wasn't right with him," he said, describing the man as looking "mentally shot."

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Mr Laundrie, 23, is a person of interest in the investigation of the death of his partner, 22-year-old Petito. He has been missing since September 17, after arriving back from a cross-country trip without her earlier in the month.

Her body was found in a Wyoming national park on September 19.

Read more about Gabby Petito here.

Around the world.

- All of the UK's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2035, a move that will help end its reliance on imported fuel, says the government. 

- The Taliban have held their first cabinet meeting since taking over Afghanistan, where they agreed that passports and ID cards would start to be issued to Afghan citizens again, reportedly with 'The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' emblazoned on the front. It remains unclear if the new passports will be recognised by any foreign governments. 

- Indonesia plans to reopen the airport in the resort island of Bali for international flights on October 14.

- Star Trek actor William Shatner will join a civilian flight on Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin next week. 

- With AAP

Feature image: James D. Morgan/Getty/Facebook/Bianca De Marchi.

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