The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday August 11.

Government chases $32m in JobKeeper debts.

More than 11,000 people have been sent debt notices worth almost $33 million linked to JobKeeper wage subsidies.

But the Morrison government continues to resist calls to crack down on businesses that won't hand back payments despite turning monster profits.

Services Australia has revealed that as of the end of April, 11,771 welfare recipients had debts raised after a review of JobKeeper and income support payments.

In response to questions on notice from Greens senator Rachel Siewert, the agency said the debt claims - which have not yet been recovered - totalled $32.8 million.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the ultra-rich had used JobKeeper money to buy private jets, pay out share dividends and increase profits.

"It is outrageous that the government refuses to make billionaires and big corporations pay back the money that they clearly didn't need to take from the public purse," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"Yet at the same time it is hounding the most vulnerable people in the country who are doing their best to survive the pandemic."

Mr Bandt said the government pursued people through the disastrous robodebt scheme, which resulted in a $1.2 billion class action settlement, but refused to take on corporations.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert said all governments had a responsibility to ensure debts were recovered fairly and respectfully under the law.

"When JobSeeker and JobKeeper were put into the Australian population, it was quite clear that Australians knew that you could not claim both," he told parliament.


Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said the government was targeting ordinary Australians but refusing to demand refunds from big companies that banked $13 billion in JobKeeper while profits grew.

Christmas pledge as NSW sets virus record.

As NSW marked its worst day of COVID-19 case numbers, Scott Morrison said he would do everything in his power to ensure Australians can celebrate Christmas around the table.

NSW reported a record 356 new local cases of coronavirus and four deaths on Tuesday.

Melbourne and Far North Queensland also chalked up new cases and remain in lockdown.

The prime minister warned the nation was in a tough fight against the Delta strain of the virus as he thanked locked-down residents across Australia for their efforts.


"I want Australia to get to Christmas, but I want everybody around that table at Christmas time," he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt declined to say whether the nation could get to the 70 per cent fully vaccinated mark by mid-November, as has been estimated as achievable by some experts.

The national strategy agreed by political leaders would see a range of restrictions lifted at this vaccination rate, with even greater freedoms at the 80 per cent mark.

The current rate sits at 23 per cent of over-16s.

"I won't put a day on it ... but I will say that what we are seeing is, at this point in time, more vaccinations occurring in July and August than we were anticipating and planning on," he said.

Sydney and surrounds are in lockdown until at least August 28, while the Hunter, Byron Bay, Armidale and Tamworth are enduring snap lockdowns.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the key to getting virus transmission in her state under control remained getting more people vaccinated and people complying with health orders.

Another NSW region could be forced into lockdown after a case of COVID-19 emerged at Dubbo West Public School in the state's central west. 

The Department of Education was advised by NSW Health late on Tuesday and the school has been closed, with staff and students asked to isolate and get tested.


Melbourne warily awaits lockdown decision.

Melburnians are facing an anxious wait for a decision on when the city's sixth lockdown might lift.

Victoria recorded 20 new local cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, all of which were linked to known outbreaks and five were in quarantine throughout their infectious period.

Late on Tuesday night the health department said a confirmed case of COVID-19 had been found to be connected to a Melbourne paediatric specialist clinic.

The department said it was investigating "a potential exposure at private medical rooms" located at 48 Flemington Road, on Monday August 9, with investigations underway into that person's movements.

However, it was not confirmed whether the case worked at the clinic or was a patient.

Regional Victoria was released from its lockdown at midnight on Monday, however Greater Melbourne remains under stay-at-home rules until at least 8pm Thursday.

Authorities have refused to rule out an extension to the lockdown, with Health Minister Martin Foley saying decisions were being made on an "hour-by-hour basis".

Far north Qld waiting to find out if their lockdown will be lifted.

Cairns residents will learn on Wednesday if they'll escape a snap lockdown sparked by two cases of COVID-19 in the far north Queensland city.

Cairns and the neighbouring Aboriginal community of Yarrabah were ordered into the three-day lockdown at 4pm on Sunday after a taxi driver spent 10 days in the community while he was infectious.


On seven of those days the cabbie was behind the wheel of his cab, driving passengers around the city. He was not vaccinated.

Residents have been flocking to testing centres since news of the case broke on Sunday.

Wednesday's figures will be the third set of results since then, and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young will be relying on them as she decides if the lockdown can end as planned at 4pm.

Rogue MP condemned over anti-lockdown rant.

Scott Morrison is under pressure to discipline another government MP spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation about coronavirus.

Queensland LNP MP George Christensen, who has announced he will retire from federal politics at the next election, claims lockdowns and face masks do not work.

In a pre-Question Time rant, Mr Christensen accused sensationalist media elites and the dictatorial medical bureaucrats of spreading fear.

"Open society back up, restore our freedoms, end this madness," the Dawson MP told parliament on Tuesday.


Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese moved a motion condemning the comments before launching a savage attack on the madness of conspiracy theorists.

"We will take the government seriously when the member for Dawson is expelled from the party," Mr Albanese said.

He said the Liberal-National MP insulted frontline workers and breached his responsibilities as an MP not to promote conspiracy theories.

The prime minister gave an indirect rebuke to Mr Christensen but didn't name the rogue MP during a 15-minute speech.

"My government doesn't support misinformation in any shape or form," he said.

Mr Morrison said he did not support such statements being made in parliament, posted on social media or being written in articles.

He pointed to the government's track record of following medical advice throughout the pandemic.

Labor MP Mike Freelander, a doctor who represents a southwest Sydney electorate, likened the prime minister's refusal to name Mr Christensen to a Harry Potter villain.

"Fifteen minutes and like Voldemort, he couldn't even mention the member for Dawson's name," Dr Freelander said.

Mr Christensen has attended anti-lockdown rallies in his electorate and encouraged others to join him.


Byron Bay visitor in hospital; expected to face police action.

A Sydney man who forced the northern NSW coastal town of Byron Bay into lockdown after travelling to the region with COVID-19 will face criminal action 'in due course', the health minister says.

The Byron Shire, Richmond Valley, Lismore, and Ballina Shire were placed into a snap seven-day lockdown on Monday night after the COVID-positive man from Sydney visited Byron Bay with two of his children. 

It's believed he was circulating in the community while symptomatic and refused to use the QR check in at venues.

9News reports he's now in hospital, and his two children both now also have the virus. 

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said all he was prepared to say about the traveller was that police were looking "extremely closely" at what he was doing in the region. 

"I trust the police will be able to take appropriate action in due course," Mr Hazzard said on Tuesday.

"What worries me is no matter what legal orders or requirements are in place, you can't legislate against stupidity, arrogance and entitlement," he said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys said police had nabbed 17 people travelling without a legitimate excuse and turned around seven cars in the past 24 hours.

Wind, rain, hail: WA storm wreaks havoc.

More than 11,000 homes and businesses across WA were without power on Tuesday night, as the SES responded to more than 100 calls for help. 

Hail, destructive wind and thunderstorms has ravaged Perth and and its surrounds, with more rain expected today and tomorrow. 


New York Governor Cuomo resigns.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned following an inquiry that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women, mounting legal pressure and demands for his departure by US President Joe Biden and others.

It is a startling downfall for a man once seen as a possible US presidential contender.

Cuomo, a Democrat who had served since 2011 as governor of the fourth most-populous US state, made the announcement after New York Attorney General Letitia James on August 3 released the results of a five-month independent investigation that concluded he had engaged in conduct that violated US and state laws.


The investigation, detailed in a 168-page report, said that Cuomo groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to women including current and former government workers - one a state trooper - and retaliated against at least one woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.

Cuomo denied wrongdoing.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from western New York, will take over as governor of the state of more than 19 million people until the end of Cuomo's term in December 2022 as outlined in the state's constitution, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Cuomo's resignation marks the second time in 13 years that a New York governor has stepped down in scandal, after Eliot Spitzer quit in 2008 over his patronage of prostitutes.

Around the world.

- The United Kingdom has reported 146 new deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, the highest daily total since March 12, as the impact of last month's surge in cases feeds through into fatalities, government data shows.

- New Zealand's LGBTQI politicians have savaged the National Party for its opposition to a government bill to ban conversion therapy. 

- Stella Moris, the partner of Julian Assange, has urged US President Joe Biden to reverse the previous administration's decision to charge the WikiLeaks founder with espionage.

- About 15,000 litres of chlorine has leaked into a fjord in Arctic Norway killing 96,000 farmed salmon.

- With AAP

Feature image: Leon Neal/Getty/Gary Gershoff/Getty/Sam Mooy/Getty.