The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday October 29.

Berejiklian next to face grilling by ICAC.

Twenty-eight days after a corruption inquiry forced her to resign as NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian will get the opportunity to address the allegations against her.

Ms Berejiklian's secret partner Daryl Maguire was the one originally under the microscope of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption last year, for allegedly using his position as an MP to gain a financial benefit for himself.

But when she sensationally revealed their clandestine relationship, it sparked a separate investigation into her own conduct, which resulted in her resigning as premier on October 1.

ICAC is investigating how the relationship may have impacted the way Ms Berejiklian — as treasurer and then premier — dealt with projects the former Wagga Wagga MP lobbied for.

The public hearings have focused on two grants: a $5.5 million upgrade to the Wagga Wagga Clay Target Club, and a $20.5 million plan to build a recital hall for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

Mr Maguire on Thursday conceded the relationship gave him greater access to Ms Berejiklian than other MPs, and in their private life he "encouraged" her to take a close interest in projects he was lobbying for.

He denied he ever explicitly asked his partner to intervene, but conceded he would sometimes communicate with her in the hope she would.

On Friday she will get her chance to answer the allegations, a day after Mr Maguire told the inquiry the pair loved each other, contemplated marriage and discussed having a child.


The former premier last year told ICAC the pair's relationship was not of "sufficient status" to disclose to anyone.

Ms Berejiklian denies any wrongdoing, but in a tearful press conference earlier this month said she had "no option" other than to resign.

"History will demonstrate that I have always executed my duties with the highest degree of integrity for the benefit of the people of NSW, who I have had the privilege to serve," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Melbourne exodus tipped as restrictions ease.

Melburnians are expected to flock to Victoria's regions for an unofficial long weekend as statewide travel resumes and more COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The metro-regional border will reopen from 6pm on Friday, ahead of the state hitting its 80 per cent full vaccination target, paving the way for a mass exodus from the city. 

It's feared the late afternoon rules change could cause traffic chaos, with thousands fleeing the city for the unofficial Melbourne Cup long weekend.

But Chief Commissioner Shane Patton has indicated those planning to get a head start might not be penalised. 

"Rather than everyone heading off ... at the six o'clock starting line, if it was a fraction earlier we're not going to be very worried about that," he told Melbourne's 3AW radio on Thursday.

He says police will instead use discretion as long as people only leave an hour or so beforehand.

Premier Daniel Andrews, however, has asked Victorians to follow the rules right up until the last minute.

"It's got to change at some point," he told reporters.

When restrictions ease at 6pm on Friday, masks no longer need to be worn outdoors, indoor entertainment venues, gyms and retail can reopen for fully vaccinated patrons, and capacity limits increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.

The state recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic's third wave on Thursday, with a further 25 COVID-19 deaths and 1923 local cases reported.

South Australia lashed by storms

More than 30,000 homes were left without power in South Australia, after parts of the state were lashed by intense storms.

Lightning, giant hail and heavy rains struck throughout Thursday, causing flash flooding and widespread damage that has forced the closure of a number of schools.

Adelaide's northern suburbs and the Barossa Valley were among the hardest hit, with video capturing large hailstones blanketing roads and water inundating buildings.


A sever thunderstorm warning for the state has been cancelled for Friday amid easing conditions.

However, SA residents are being advised to keep clear of fallen power lines, beware of fallen trees or debris on the road, not to go through floodwater and to keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

Protests over police killing of Aboriginal woman.

Protests were held across the country on Thursday after a first-class constable was acquitted of murdering an Aboriginal woman in regional Western Australia.  

The officer was last week cleared over the fatal 2019 police shooting of the woman, known as JC. The verdict was met with anger and devastation by JC's family, including her nine-year-old son. 

The mother-of-one, aged 29, had experienced significant mental health and drug problems and recently been released from prison when she was shot dead by the officer from close range while surrounded by police vehicles in Geraldton.

The officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the WA Supreme Court he had acted in self-defence.

He claimed JC, who was armed with a knife and a pair of scissors, had raised the knife and moved as if to lunge at him before he pulled the trigger.


About 100 people rallied against the ruling on Thursday outside Parliament House in Perth, with protesters leaving red hand marks on the building's steps.

A protest was also held in JC's hometown of Geraldton, while others were due to take place in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

Noongar activist Mervyn Eades told the Perth rally it was unacceptable there were no Aboriginal jury members on the JC trial.

"Here we are again once more. A sister taken, a mother, a daughter," he told the crowd. "The legal system in Western Australia, they're not here for our people - they never have been. No one will ever be found guilty of any death of any of our people."

Aus Post reveals deadline for Christmas parcels.

Australia Post is urging people to get their Christmas shopping done early if they want to post presents and cards, as it prepares for a record festive season. 

The corporation has recommended parcels should be posted by December 13 for Parcel Post or December 20 for Express Post to ensure delivery by Christmas.

However, for some locations, including Perth, Darwin and others outside of metro areas, it's recommend parcels be sent earlier with customers advised to check the Australia Post website.

Christmas cards should be sent by December 16, and customers sending overseas are encouraged to do so as soon as possible as cut-off dates vary depending on the destination.

With parcel volumes already setting records this year, December is tipped to surpass last year's 52 million parcels.

Australia Post's Gary Starr said preparations for the peak season were well underway, including the recruitment of more than 4000 Christmas casuals.

There will be extra air freight capacity, weekend deliveries and thousands of new staff to ramp up delivery services and parcel sorting with deliveries arriving right up until Christmas Eve.


More than 200 sightings of Cleo Smith reported.

West Australian police have revealed they have received more than 200 reports of possible sightings of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith.

"Unfortunately all of those [sightings] obviously have proved unfruitful," said Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde, who is leading the task force of more than 100 officers investigating Cleo's disappearance

"But again I want to thank the public for calling that information in, and that's been national as well."

Have you seen Cleo? Image: WA Police

Police believe the child was abducted from her family's tent at the remote Blowholes campsite on WA's northwest coast in the early hours of October 16.

The task force is yet to publicly identify any suspects but Supt Wilde said he was confident answers would soon be found.

"We've been back there obviously conducting some forensic work and other investigations," he told local reporters.

"The investigation is progressing. We are hopeful, very hopeful and confident that we're going to resolve it."

Australia misses out in NZ border changes.

Trans-Tasman families are set for a second-consecutive Christmas apart as the New Zealand government opts against a border reopening to Australia this year.


Under long-awaited changes to NZ's managed isolation and quarantine — or MIQ — regime, arrivals from November 14 will need to spend seven days in quarantine rather than two weeks.

While travellers from low-risk countries such as Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Tokelau will bypass MIQ altogether from November 8, Australian travellers have missed out.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the timeline for expanding quarantine-free travel further is "early 2022", once more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders are vaccinated.

"Even if you have a wildfire, it doesn't mean it's okay to go around striking matches," she said. "That is the way we have to think about the border, there's cumulative risk."

There were 89 community cases of COVID-19 identified by NZ health officials on Thursday, with two in Christchurch ending a 358-day virus-free run for the South Island's biggest city.

Facebook is changing its name

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his company is rebranding itself as 'Meta' in an effort to encompass its virtual-reality vision for the future — what Zuckerberg calls the "metaverse".

In explaining the rebrand, Zuckerberg said the name "Facebook" just does not encompass "everything we do" any more. In addition to its primary social network, the company now includes Instagram, Messenger, its Quest VR headset, its Horizon VR platform and more.

While the wider company name is being rebranded to Meta, the core Facebook service will remain unchanged.


This is similar to how Google created a new parent company name — Alphabet — in 2015 to represent its shift beyond simply being a search engine.

The announcement comes amid an existential crisis for Facebook.

It faces legislative and regulatory scrutiny in many parts of the world following revelations in the Facebook Papers, a leaked document trove that has revealed the ways Facebook ignored internal reports and warnings of the harms its social network created or magnified across the world.

Around the world.

- A Malaysian gynaecologist has invented what he says is the world's first unisex condom. The reversible product is made from a medical-grade material usually used for dressing wounds.

- Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have told a London court it should disregard assurances given by the United States that he would not be subject to harsh detention conditions if extradited to the US on espionage charges. They argued evidence heard during the original extradition hearing showed he would be detained "in conditions of extreme isolation" that could drive him to suicide.

- India has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5000km from an island off its east coast amid rising border tensions with China. Beijing's powerful missile arsenal has driven New Delhi to improve its weapons systems in recent years, with the Agni-5 believed to be able to strike nearly all of China.

— With AAP.

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