The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday February 16.

Australian Olympian arrested for alleged drug-related crimes. 

Scott Miller has been arrested by NSW Police. Image: Getty. 

Olympic swimmer Scott Miller has been arrested at his home in Sydney's Inner West, before he was taken to Newtown police station for questioning, according to The Sydney Morning Herald

Police will allege Miller was involved in the supply of ice, after $2 million worth of the prohibited drug was found concealed inside candles. 

The Olympian's arrest, plus the arrest of another man in Balmain, follow a lengthy investigation by NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission into an alleged criminal syndicate.


Miller, a butterfly swimmer, won a silver model at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

He was married to TV personality Charlotte Dawson for a short period. 

Senior police will hold a press conference on Tuesday in relation to the arrest of Miller. 

Virus vaccine rollout nears for Australia.

The countdown has begun for the start of Australia's coronavirus vaccine rollout, more than a year after the first case was detected in the country. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed the rollout will begin next Monday after the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Australia.

The shipment included more than 142,000 doses of the vaccine, with 50,000 set to go to the states and territories for hotel quarantine workers, frontline health workers, and residential and disability care.

Mr Hunt said the doses would be divided among the states depending on their population.

Australia has secured more than 150 million doses of various vaccines.

That includes almost 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the vast majority to be manufactured in Melbourne, and more than 51 million from Novavax.

The medical regulator is expected to announce approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine soon.

Australia is also part of the international COVAX facility, which provides access to a range of vaccines in order to immunise up to half of the population.


PM responds to Liberal staffer rape allegations.

This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly responded to sexual assault allegations raised by a Liberal staffer, saying the woman should be listened to and respected.

Brittany Higgins was 24 years old when she was allegedly raped by a colleague inside Parliament House in March 2019.

Her boss, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, summoned her to a formal employment meeting about the incident in the same room the alleged rape occurred.

Senator Reynolds says she did not know the alleged incident happened inside her ministerial office at the time of the meeting and had she known, she would have conducted the meeting elsewhere.

However, Ms Higgins says "there's no way" Senator Reynolds did not know where the alleged rape occurred.

"She knew it was in her office," she told Network 10's The Project on Monday night.

"I just thought it was unfathomable that they would put me in that space again.

"I felt like I was reliving it every second of being in that room."

Ms Higgins said Senator Reynolds was "nice" and "apologetic", but the meeting quickly turned to whether she would report the incident to police.

"I felt like a weird sort of a HR, ticking a box moment," she said.


"It felt like I immediately became sort of like a political problem... it wasn't a staffing problem, it wasn't an HR problem, it wasn't a human problem."

Mr Morrison was asked about his government's response to the alleged rape during Question Time, saying it took all matters of workplace safety "very, very seriously".

Mr Morrison said at all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins about how she wishes to proceed with the allegations.

"This important, best practice principle of empowering Ms Higgins is something the government always sought to follow in relation to this matter," he said.

"The government has aimed to provide Ms Higgins with her agency, to provide support to make decisions in her interests and to respect her privacy.

"This offer of support and assistance continues. It is important that Ms Higgins' views are listened to and respected."

An ACT Police spokesperson said it is not uncommon for an investigation to halt, not proceed to prosecution, or to be recommenced at a later time at the request of a victim.

"If the complainant wishes to proceed, ACT Policing will assess the case and make a decision about whether there is sufficient evidence," they said.

Ms Higgins is the third Liberal staffer to allege she was sexually assaulted by men in the party.

Labor MP Peta Murphy told parliament there needed to be an independent review of the treatment of female employees in Parliament House, and an independent office established to provide advice and counselling.

READ MORE: "I was crying the whole way through it". A former Liberal Party staffer has alleged she was raped inside Parliament House.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Victorian 'hot hotel' evacuated as state records two new local cases.

Melbourne's Holiday Inn on Flinders quarantine hotel will be evacuated on Tuesday after a sprinkler caused water damage to a number of floors.

The venue is a 'hot hotel', meaning returned travellers who return a positive COVID-19 test are transferred to the hotel.

All 31 infected travellers currently staying at the Flinders Lane hotel will be transferred to another hotel today. It is not the same venue as the Holiday Inn hotel linked to Melbourne's current COVID-19 outbreak.


Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday - two locally acquired and two in hotel quarantine.

Both local cases are close contacts of a previously confirmed case linked to the Melbourne Airport quarantine hotel cluster.

O Monday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the listing of COVID-19 exposure sites will indicate whether Victoria's "cinrcuit breaker" lockdown will lift on Wednesday.

Authorities are yet to rule out an extension to the five-day shutdown, with Melbourne's outbreak now at 19 cases.

More than halfway through the lockdown, Professor Sutton said further cases stemming from the Melbourne Airport quarantine hotel cluster are reasonably likely to arise in the coming days.


But he indicated they won't necessarily sink Victoria's chances of emerging from lockdown, if they come from the more than 3,000 Victorians isolating as contacts of confirmed cases. 

"We're hoping that all of those would occur in people that have already been identified, already been quarantined and would not generate any more exposure sites," Prof Sutton told ABC radio on Monday afternoon.

"That's the critical thing. We don't want new cases to emerge where we hear that they've been to multiple public areas or gatherings."

Earlier, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was not in a position to confirm the lockdown would end as planned on Wednesday.

"We just have to take this one hour at a time, one day at a time," he said.

Image: Getty.

It comes as about 150 people have been identified as close contacts of a woman who attended a function at a Coburg venue with an infectious hotel quarantine worker on February 6.

A psychiatric unit at The Alfred hospital and psychiatric wards at Broadmeadows Hospital and the Northern Hospital in Epping, where the woman worked, have been locked down.

Her close contacts across the three hospitals, including a "small number" of patients, have been tested and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The woman's three-year-old child also attended the event and has since tested positive. 

The child attended Glenroy Central Kinder and Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy for three days last week.


More than 100 close contacts have been identified and a dedicated testing site has been set up at one of the facilities.

Decision day arrives for Biloela family.

For nearly three years, a Tamil family who call the Queensland town of Biloela home have fought to be able to return to their community.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, aged five and three, have been in detention on Christmas Island since August 2019 after an urgent injunction put a hold on their deportation.

Image: Facebook/Bring Priya, Nades and their girls home to Biloela. 

On Tuesday morning, the family will learn if their latest, and possibly final, bid to return home has succeeded.

The family had a win in the Federal Court last year, with Justice Mark Mochinsky ruling that Tharunicaa was denied procedural fairness in making a protection visa application, which would have allowed her to remain in Australia.

He ordered that their legal costs of more than $200,000 be paid, after determining that Immigration Minister David Coleman had lifted a bar to consider a visa application.

But the federal government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court.

Three judges heard the case in October and Justice Richard White will hand down their decision on Tuesday morning.


As well as the federal government's appeal a decision will also be handed down in a cross-appeal filed by the family's lawyers on a second ground for relief which was dismissed in the first Federal Court hearing.

There is no automatic right of appeal to the High Court from the full bench of the Federal Court.

That means if either party wishes to appeal the case further they must first seek special leave from the High Court.

UK PM eyes 'cautious' path out of lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out a cautious timetable for easing coronavirus restrictions in England over the coming months, pledging to try to avoid the U-turns that have plagued the country's strategy so far.

The planned exit from lockdown should be "cautious but irreversible," Johnson told reporters in London.

The UK government is hoping the current lockdown will be the country's last, though Johnson said he could not offer a "cast iron guarantee" that would be the case.

Fearing the rapid spread of dangerous coronavirus variants, however, the plan foresees gradual relaxations of rules at greater intervals.

Johnson only sets the rules for England – in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the regional governments are responsible for regulating restrictions.

According to media reports, the first pupils in England are to be allowed to return to in-person schooling on March 8.

The relaxations are expected to affect outdoor activities first, then retail, followed by restaurants and bars.


However, this also depends on scientific evaluations of the extent to which the vaccination progress is already having an impact on the infection situation.

More than 15 million residents of the UK have already received a first vaccine dose, including more than 90 per cent of people older than 70.

By the end of April, the aim is to give all people over 50 a first dose of the vaccine.

"This is an unprecedented national achievement," Johnson told a press conference on Monday.

And yet this is "no moment to relax," he added.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been falling dramatically for several weeks but remains at a high level.

In the past seven days, the country counted just under 150 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

Oprah to interview Prince Harry and Meghan.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will give their first interview since they quit the royal family in a sit down with Oprah Winfrey next month.

Harry and Meghan, who announced they are expecting their second child on Sunday, shocked senior royals last year by announcing plans to step back from their roles.

CBS said the interview will be broadcast on March 7.

"Winfrey will speak with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in a wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure," CBS said in a statement.


"Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family."

The couple moved to California with their infant son Archie last year and have signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix, a major step in their plan to make a living for themselves outside the royal family.

Last week, Meghan won a privacy claim against Associated Newspapers after its Mail on Sunday paper had printed extracts of a letter she wrote to her father in August 2018.

Williams, Osaka one win away from semis.

A dream Australian Open semi-final awaits if tournament favourite Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams are able to post wins when they hit the court on Tuesday.

Osaka saved two match points in a thrilling 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over 2020 runner-up Garbine Muguruza on Sunday.

The three-time grand slam winner will be hoping for an easier ride when she takes on world No.71 Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan.

Williams is up against world No.2 Simona Halep in Tuesday's other women's quarter-final.

Halep trails 9-2 in their head-to-head battles, but she thumped Williams 6-2 6-2 at the 2019 Wimbledon final in the most recent meeting between the pair.

The blockbuster rematch is sure to attract plenty of attention, especially with Williams still chasing Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.

Local hopes still remain in world No.1 Ash Barty, who has reached jer three consecutive Australian Open quarter-finals after thumping American Shelby Rogers in straight sets. 

In the men's tournament, World No.1 Novak Djokovic will be aiming to continue his march towards a record ninth Australian Open crown when he takes on Germany's world No.7 Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.

Around the world.

- Myanmar police and military forces have fired at peaceful protesters during demonstrations in the northern city of Mandalay, local media reports say.

- New Zealand is hoping for a second day of no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with a decision on if Auckland will emerge from its snap three-day lockdown dependent on whether it has stemmed the spread of the virus.

- More than a dozen countries in the Middle East are reporting cases of new COVID-19 variants, the World Health Organisation said on Monday.

With AAP.

Feature Image: Channel 10/Getty.