The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday October 28.

History made: Cavallo is the first active footballer to tell the public he is gay.

Josh Cavallo is the first and only current top-flight male professional footballer in the world to tell the public he is gay. 

The 21-year-old Adelaide United player wrote on social media that he was "ready to speak about something personal that I'm finally comfortable to talk about in my life".

"I'm a footballer and I'm gay," the midfielder said in an accompanying video.

"All I want to do is play football and be treated equally."

Josh spoke about "fighting with his sexuality for over six years" and feeling like he had to hide his true self to pursue his dream to play football.

"Being a gay closeted footballer, I've had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer... I've lived my life assuming this was a topic never to be spoken about."


He's hopeful that by speaking out he can show others who identify as LGBTIQ+ that they are welcome in the football community.

The support for Cavallo was unanimous and vocal. Players have lined up to congratulate the Adelaide United player. Their clubs did the same.

'No vax exemption' for Aust Open: Daniel Andrews.

Victoria will not seek exemptions for unvaccinated tennis players to enter the state from overseas to take part in the Australian Open, putting Novak Djokovic's participation under a cloud.

"What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.

"I am not going to ask and require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event to be vaccinated while players aren't. We're not going to be applying for an exemption.

"Therefore, the issue is basically resolved."

His comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the possibility of unvaccinated players being able to travel to Australia for the January tournament, provided they complete 14 days of hotel quarantine.

"If there is a special exemption that is warranted for an economic reason ... that can happen, but you have to follow the health rules in that state," he told the Nine Network.


"Two weeks quarantine for unvaccinated people, that is sensible." 

Mr Morrison said while there were clear rules requiring Victorians to be vaccinated to take part in economic activity, "there needs to be a little bit of flexibility".

"We want major events in this country, a lot of jobs depends on it. We want Australia to show to the world that we are open," he said.

Mr Morrison's comments contradict those made by his immigration minister Alex Hawke, who last week said athletes would need to be double-vaccinated to enter the country.

"I don't think it would be very fair to have ten of thousands of Victorians and others who come here because they are vaccinated queuing up to get the green tick to get into Melbourne Park and having other players who are not vaccinated just walking straight in," said Premier Andrews.

A vaccination mandate also came into effect in Victoria on October 15, which includes professional athletes.

COVID-19 cluster emerges at Sydney gym.

A Sydney gym is at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak as infections in several NSW regions rise and the state gears up for unrestricted travel to resume for the first time in four months.

There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to City Gym, in Darlinghurst in the inner city, involving people who attended while infectious or acquired their infection at the facility, NSW Health said.

People who used the gym at certain times on October 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 or 25 are considered casual contacts and must immediately get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received.

NSW recorded 304 new locally acquired infections and three deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.


A cluster in the Hunter New England local government area grew by 83 new cases - up 34 on the day before, and accounting for more than a quarter of the state's new cases.

Once again the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which includes the Victorian border town of Albury, recorded the second-highest daily tally with 38 new cases, while Wodonga on the other side of the border recorded 46 cases.

Some 22 new cases were also recorded on the mid-north coast.

The highly anticipated move to unfettered travel to the regions is due to start on Monday after being delayed over lagging vaccination numbers in the regions.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has hinted it could happen sooner, saying his COVID economic recovery committee will be examining "aspects of the roadmap" this week.

While on average more than 85 per cent of NSW residents aged over 16 are fully vaccinated, about 60 regions have less than 85 per cent coverage and 14 have a vaccine uptake of less than 75 per cent.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws has called for a "sensible" delay - at least four weeks - to travel to the regions.

Half a million Victorians asked to get jab.

Victoria's daily COVID-19 case numbers have reached a plateau, as health authorities urge half a million people to get vaccinated two days before more restrictions ease. 

The state recorded another 1534 locally acquired virus cases on Wednesday and 13 more deaths, seven men and six women.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said it was encouraging to see the daily numbers stay about 1500 per day during the past three days.


"It does feel like we are at a plateau at the moment," he told reporters.

About 85 per cent of Victoria's new cases are among people who are not fully vaccinated.

Mr Weimar said about 500,000 people were yet to receive a first dose of a vaccine, as he noted vaccination numbers at state-run hubs had started to drop.

Vaccine uptake is particularly lagging among people aged in their 20s, with only 83 per cent of that age group receiving a first dose, compared with 91 per cent statewide.

Victoria is less than two days away from new freedoms, which will see all non-essential retail reopen along with greater numbers being allowed inside hospitality venues.

All retail will reopen to both unvaccinated and vaccinated on Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed.

But he warns this will change once 90 per cent of over-16s are fully vaccinated.

"We've added in non-essential retail and because we've added it in, the only fair thing to do is let people have time," he told reporters.

"It's part of the 90 per cent stage, where all the density quotas, all the caps, all the other rules go and we move to two rules; masks in sensitive settings, and the vaccinated economy and that lockout approach."

Meanwhile, a bill giving the premier the power to declare a pandemic is expected to pass the lower house when it is debated on Thursday. It will require the support of three crossbenchers to pass the upper house.


Australia ready for overseas take off: PM.

Australia is set reach an 80 per cent double vaccination rate in a matter of days, ahead of the international border reopening next week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vaccine milestone was likely to be reached next week, with overseas travel also resuming for the fully vaccinated from November 1.

"On Monday, Australia will be taking off again as international travel restrictions are lifted," Mr Morrison told parliament on Wednesday.

"The national plan is being achieved and that is achieved by vaccination rates."

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families will be prioritised to travel back to Australia when international travel restarts.

However, the prime minister told parliament it was likely all international travellers, including tourists, would be able to come into country by the end of the year.

The government on Wednesday announced it would scrap exemption requirements for international travel from November 1 for the fully vaccinated.

Those who are yet to be fully vaccinated will still need to apply for an exemption.

ACT COVID measures could be eased early.

Some COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT could be rolled back earlier than anticipated due to increasing vaccine rates.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said parts of the last stages in Canberra's COVID road map could be brought forward a few weeks. They were initially slated to be eased from November 26.

Those changes would see density limits decrease, with caps on household gatherings also scrapped.


The ACT on Wednesday reached the 90 per cent fully vaccinated rate for residents aged 12 and over.

Mr Barr indicated Canberra was on track to get to 99 per cent fully vaccinated by the end of November.

Restrictions are due to be eased again this Friday, with mandates on face masks outdoors scrapped and household gathering limits doubling from five to 10.

Density limits at cafes, restaurants and pubs will increase, while cinemas, museums, zoos and entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen.

Casual contacts of COVID cases will no longer need to undergo quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, but will still need to isolate until they receive a negative test result.

The ACT registered 10 new infections on Wednesday, with 11 coronavirus patients in hospital.

PM seeks to mitigate climate criticism.

Scott Morrison will jet off for global climate talks seeking to mitigate criticism Australia isn't pulling its weight with a belated 2050 net zero emissions target. 

The prime minister leaves for a G20 summit in Rome on Thursday before heading to COP26 climate talks starting on Sunday.

Australia will bring much weaker climate commitments relative to comparable nations and has ruled out formally increasing its 2030 emissions reduction target.

Mr Morrison rejected criticism about the coalition's net zero path, nearly a third of which relies on "further technology breakthroughs" and "global technology trends".

"The coalition, in the announcement of our plan to reach net zero by 2050, has put in place a practical and a responsible approach," he told parliament on Wednesday.


The prime minister brandished his smartphone as he defended pinning hopes on undiscovered and unproven technologies to achieve a chunk of emissions reduction.

"An iPhone would never have been existing if it was based on the assumptions of the leader of the opposition,' he said.

Mr Morrison added the modelling underpinning the coalition's emissions assumptions would be released in coming weeks.

Police return to campsite where officers believe Cleo Smith was abducted.

Police searching for any sign of missing girl Cleo Smith have returned to the tourist hotspot after spending days at her parent's property looking for evidence.

Western Australia police say her parents have been ruled out as suspects in the four-year-old's disappearance. 

It’s feared Cleo was abducted from the tent she shared with her family at the Blowholes campsite last Saturday morning.

It's understood police have taken ash samples from several burnt-out campfires near shacks in the area.

Acting Commissioner Blanch said police remained focused on trying to find a vehicle seen driving out of the campsite at about 3:00am on the day Cleo vanished.  

Assange could go to an Australian jail: US.

US authorities have told British judges that if they agree to extradite Julian Assange on espionage charges, the WikiLeaks founder could serve any US prison sentence he receives in his native Australia.

In January, a lower UK court refused a US request to extradite Assange over WikiLeaks' publication of secret US military documents a decade ago.


District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange, who has spent years in hiding and in UK prisons as he fights extradition, was likely to take his own life if held under harsh US prison conditions.

Appealing against that decision at the High Court in London, a lawyer for the US government on Wednesday denied that Assange's mental health was too fragile to withstand the US judicial system.

Lawyer James Lewis said Assange "has no history of serious and enduring mental illness" and does not meet the threshold of being so ill that he cannot resist harming himself.

US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison, although Lewis said "the longest sentence ever imposed for this offence is 63 months".

Lewis said US authorities had promised that Assange would not be held before trial in a top-security "Supermax" prison or subjected to strict isolation conditions, and if convicted would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia.

Baldwin gun fired lead projectile.

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a vintage Colt pistol loaded with a live lead round in the accidental fatal shooting last week of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of his movie Rust, authorities say.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies held a briefing six days after Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal for a scene inside a church at the filming location in New Mexico.


No one has been charged.

Mendoza and Carmack-Altwies said it was too early to discuss charges but said charges would be filed if warranted.

"No one has been ruled out at this point," Carmack-Altwies said referring to potential charges.

She said the investigation is not yet concluded.

Authorities have the firearm used in the shooting, the sheriff said.

Mendoza said what is thought to be additional live rounds have been found on the set but they would be subject to testing by ballistics experts.

"It's a suspected live round that was fired but it did fire from the weapon and it did cause injury. That would lead us to believe it was a live round," he said.

Detectives recovered two boxes of "ammo," "loose ammo and boxes" as well as "a fanny pack w/ammo," along with several spent casings, according to a court filing.

US issues first passport with 'X' gender.

The United States has issued its first passport in which the holder's gender is listed as "X," a "gender marker for non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming persons," the US State Department says.

"We look forward to offering this option to all routine passport applicants once we complete the necessary system and form updates in early 2022," the statement said.


As the State Department first announced in the northern hemisphere summer, instead of an "M" for "male" or "F" for "female," people who do not identify as either will now have the option to select an "X" instead.

Around the world.

- Heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles will speak at the opening ceremony of the COP26 United Nations climate summit to welcome world leaders, his office says, a day after Queen Elizabeth pulled out on doctors' advice.

- A Japanese start-up is hoping to convince motorists to swap their cars for a AU$900,000 hover bike, which it claims can fly for 40 minutes at up to 100km/h (62mph) on a single charge.

- With AAP

Feature image: Instagram @joshua.cavallo/Jack Taylor/Getty/Darrian Traynor.

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