The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday November 22.

Four children have died in a Melbourne house fire tragedy.

Four children under 10 have died after becoming trapped inside their home as it was engulfed in flames in southwest Melbourne.

Firefighters were called to Mantello Dr in Werribee just before 1am on Sunday, to find the roof of a single-storey brick house on fire. 

Werribee fire brigade Lieutenant Damien Molloy said when crews arrived the property was "very well alight".

"Fire had already broken through the roof and was already coming out the front door," he told reporters on Sunday.

Two girls, aged one and six, and two boys, aged three and 10, were found dead inside the house.

Their parents and eight-year-old brother managed to escape the fire and are in hospital.

Victoria Police arson and explosives detectives are investigating the cause of the fire and will prepare a report for the coroner. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Ashley Ryan said he could not yet say whether the fire was suspicious.

AAP understands the call for help was answered within 79 seconds.

Peng Shuai tells officials she's "safe and well" in video call. 

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose whereabouts have been a matter of international concern for weeks, has had her first contact with sports officials outside China since she disappeared from public view on November 2. 

The former doubles world No.1 had not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media that former vice premier Zhang Gaoli had coerced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.

Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government have commented on her allegation. Peng's social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China's heavily censored internet.


But this morning the International Olympic Committee posted that they had a 30-minute video call with the star.

"She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time. That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now," the IOC said in a statement. 

Several photos and videos were published over the weekend of Shuai attending a tennis tournament, walking into a restaurant, and at a table chatting. They were all released by Chinese controlled sources. 

The WTA labelled the photographs and video footage "insufficient" noting that they did not address the WTA's concerns, a spokesperson for the group told Reuters by email.

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Australia to enjoy virus summer honeymoon.

Australia will probably avoid the new burst of coronavirus cases that are enveloping Europe, although problems could arise entering winter next year, warns the Australian Medical Association.

We're enjoying a relatively high level of vaccination with over 84 per cent of people aged 16 and over now fully vaccinated with two doses.

"Because we will have a relatively newly minted, highly vaccinated population, we will probably be OK in summer and go through a bit of a honeymoon period," AMA vice-president Chris Moy told the ABC.

"The problem will be later when vaccination rates, vaccinations possibly start to wane in terms of effectiveness into winter next year."

The Northern Territory's COVID-19 outbreak is expected to grow beyond currently locked-down areas following nine new cases detected at remote Binjari, about 320km south of Darwin.


Meanwhile, Victoria reported 1275 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and a further four deaths.

In NSW there were 176 infections and two deaths, while in the ACT there were 16 cases.

There were further rallies in Victoria and other parts of the country on Saturday protesting against vaccine mandates. Prime Minister Scott Minister denounced the violent protests but also said he had sympathy for Australians who had had a gutsful of governments telling them what to do during the pandemic.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had another crack at the prime minister, saying he should be condemning violence and congratulating Victorians for what they've done.

"He couldn't do that, he was incapable of doing that," Mr Andrews said.

Migrants, students set for overseas return.

Visa holders, skilled migrants and international students will be allowed to return to Australia shortly.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make an announcement later on Monday confirming the arrangements.

It has been nearly two years since the groups have been able to come to the country without having to quarantine, after international borders closed due to COVID-19.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said allowing more people to return to Australia from overseas was the natural next step.

"We want to allow skilled migrants to come to our country as well as international students sooner than later," Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

"International students are worth some $40 billion to our economy, and we know that there are workforce shortages out there and skilled workers can play a key part."


Australia welcomed tourists from Singapore on Sunday, following the start of a quarantine-free travel bubble between the two nations.

Pressure grows on selectors to dump Tim Paine from Ashes squad over sexting scandal.

Former Cricket Australia chairman David Peever has hit out at the current board over the Tim Paine affair, accusing it of abandoning the fallen Test captain.

In an angry statement, Peever accused CA of a knee-jerk reaction and hit back at new chairman Richard Freudenstein's claims the current board would have taken the captaincy off Paine three years ago.

It was under Peever's administration that Paine was cleared of any misconduct following a 2018 integrity unit investigation into lewd messages and a graphic image to Cricket Tasmania colleague.

Peever said it was unfair for Paine to be cleared of misconduct in 2018, only to have a new board say he should have been punished now following Friday's resignation.

Pressure is now mounting on Ashes selectors to dump him from the side entirely. 

According to The Age, the woman at the centre of the allegation asked Cricket Australia for a formal apology and money to cover her legal costs.

Around the world.

- Austrians have enjoyed their last day out before a nationwide 20 day lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.

- Five police officers have been injured and 28 detained as violent protests against COVID-19 restrictions rage in the Netherlands. The opposition was sparked by a government plan to restrict use of a national corona pass to people who had either recovered from COVID or had been vaccinated, excluding those with a negative test result.

- With AAP

Feature image: CFA/Mark Kolbe/Getty/Steve Bell/Getty.

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