The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday September 28.

Trump paid no income tax in 10 of the past 15 years.

President Donald Trump paid just $US750 ($A1,070) in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, the New York Times has reported, citing tax-returns.

Trump also paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years, the Times reported on Sunday.

He is said to have reported losing more money than he made.  

Trump says the report is "totally fake news." Image: Getty.

Trump has blasted the long running quest for his financial records a "disgusting witch hunt." He is the only modern president to refuse to release his tax returns despite promising to do so before the election. 

"It's totally fake news," he told a press conference this morning. 

The Times says its information comes from tax return data it obtained extending over two decades 

Hopes of NZ travel bubble by year-end.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.

But he says "first and foremost" Australian states must open up to one another as great progress is being made.

His comments came as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced some "safe and steady steps" in unwinding the restrictions for locked-down Melbourne.

Senator Birmingham said opening up an international border with New Zealand would be a "great step" and work is being done to make sure this can be done in a safe way.

"We're making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand," the minster told ABC News Weekend Breakfast.

"It's up to them as to whether they choose to open up to Australia, but we're certainly making sure that we're prepared and I'm hopeful that could be this year."


New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern told Kiwi morning show Breakfast "it is possible" we could see state-by-state bubbles before Christmas.

Under the potential plan, Australians would be able to travel interstate and even to New Zealand, if a region was not deemed a hot spot.

"What we'd need to be assured of is when Australia is saying they have a hotspot [in one state] that the border around that hotspot means that people aren't able to travel into the states where we are engaging with, with trans-Tasman travel. 

"We've got a strategy of having a Covid-free country, that's our ongoing goal and way of operating, and other states have actually operated like that too, like Queensland."

Melbourne's curfew finally lifts.

Melburnians have slept through their final night of curfew after the Victorian government lifted the controversial COVID-19 lockdown measure.

City dwellers have lived with the nightly 9pm to 5am curfew for eight weeks in a move to bring the state's devastating second wave under control.

But it will be repealed from 5am on Monday under rule relaxations unveiled on Sunday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said lifting the curfew did not mean people could hold private indoor or outdoor gatherings, with those caught doing so liable for a beefed-up $5000 fine.

Melbourne's curfew lifts today after eight long weeks, but the city remains in strict lockdown. Image: Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty.

"No one has the right to put everything that Victorians have done at risk by going and potentially spreading the virus, one family to another," Mr Andrews said.

From today, 127,000 people can return to work - close to 30,000 more than originally expected.


Other rule changes include childcare reopening, allowances for outdoor gatherings of up to five from two households and the lifting of a shopping limit of one person per household a day.

Victoria's VCE and VCAL students will also return to school for assessments from October 5, with primary school students back on October 12.

Hospital patients will be allowed one visitor per day for a maximum of two hours, while patients under 18 will be allowed unlimited visits from two parents or carers.

READ: Here's what's next for Victoria in more detail.

Australian scientists developing a nasal spray that could fend off coronavirus.

Melbourne based scientists are working on an infection-free coronavirus treatment that's due to start human trials shortly.

Volunteers will receive a gentle spray into the nose twice each week, after the drug dramatically reduced the ability of COVID-19 to infect animals in trials.

It prepares the immune system to fight, rather than targeting a specific virus.

The spray would be used alongside a vaccine.

JobKeeper winds back from today.

Opposition parties and unions are angered by the federal government going ahead with its planned winding back of the JobKeeper wage subsidy on Monday, just days after reducing the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement on Friday.

From Monday, JobKeeper will be reduced from $1500 a fortnight to $1200 for full-time workers and to $750 for part-time workers.

The JobSeeker supplement was reduced from $550 a fortnight to $250.


The ACTU said 3.5 million people - more than a third of the pre-COVID workforce - are currently receiving the JobKeeper payment - will be worse off from this week.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has promised the government will continue to support Australians through the pandemic, saying his October 6 budget will focus on economic recovery and creating jobs.

NSW won't rush more COVID-19 rule relief.

NSW is hoping to string together consecutive days without a new COVID-19 case but the government isn't rushing into any rule changes.

For the first time since June 10, NSW didn't record an inflection over a 24-hour span on Sunday.

Asked if the state would further relax rules based on recent low case numbers, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW was continually reviewing restrictions in line with expert health advice.

"While the health and safety of the people of NSW remains our priority, we are also focused on firing up the economy and getting people back in jobs," she said in a statement on Sunday.

"We don't want any restrictions in place longer than they need to be."

Health Minister Brad Hazzard patted the community on the back for following safety measures.

"No locally acquired cases. No internationally acquired cases. No interstate acquired cases," he tweeted.

"A very good day. But no vaccine and no treatment (equals) no room for complacency."

The welcome result came from 12,333 tests up to 8pm on Saturday as school holidays began over the weekend.


Senate battle ahead on Barrett nomination.

The nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court is another milestone in President Donald Trump's rightward shift of the top US judicial body and has dismayed liberals worried about key social issues, including health care.

Trump's announcement during a flag-festooned White House Rose Garden ceremony sets off a scramble by Senate Republicans to confirm Barrett before election day in five and a half weeks, as Trump seeks a second term in office.

If confirmed by the Senate to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on September 18, Barrett would push its conservative majority to a commanding 6-3.

Amy Coney Barrett was officially nominated for the US Supreme Court by President Trump over the weekend. Image: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/ Getty.

Like Trump's two other appointees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, Barrett, 48, is young enough that she could serve for decades in the lifetime job, leaving a lasting conservative imprint.

Democrats are set to make the fate of the Obamacare healthcare law a key part of the confirmation fight.

Barrett has described influential conservative Justice Antonin Scalia as her mentor, saying 'his judicial philosophy is mine too'.

On the Supreme Court, Scalia voted to curb abortion rights, dissented when the court legalised gay marriage, and backed broad gun rights.

Explainer: What the timing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death means for the US election, and beyond.

First female cabinet minister in a federal Labor government, Susan Ryan, dies aged 77.

Susan Ryan rode the wave of 1970s feminism to become the first woman cabinet minister in a federal Labor government.

Her death at the age of 77 was confirmed over the weekend.


Ryan was responsible for the Hawke government's landmark sex discrimination and affirmative action laws.

But the "unreconstructed Whitlamite" struggled against the economic rationalist tide in her major position of education minister and, after being demoted in 1987, suddenly quit politics.

Former Hawke Health Minister and Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan at the launch of the National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the Workplace report in 2015. Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

She then reinvented herself as head of industry associations, before returning to fight discrimination in 2011 , when she became Australia's first full-time age discrimination commissioner. Then, in 2015 and aged 72, the Abbott government made her its inaugural ambassador for mature age employment.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard said she was shocked and saddened by the news of Ms Ryan's death, describing her as a "feminist hero and Labor giant."

Trump, Biden preparing for first debate.

Ahead of the first debate-stage match-up between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each campaign is promising a stark contrast in policy, personality and preparation.


Trump has decided to skip any formal preparation.

And while Biden's team believes the significance of the debate may be exaggerated, the Democratic nominee has been aggressively preparing to take on the president.

Biden's campaign has been holding mock debate sessions featuring Bob Bauer, a senior Biden adviser and former White House general counsel, playing the role of Trump, according to a person with direct knowledge of the preparations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy.

"I'm sure the president will throw everything he can at (Biden)," said Jay Carney, a former aide to Biden and President Barack Obama.

"My guess is that they're preparing for that - bombarding him with insults and weird digressions,"

Trump and Biden are scheduled to meet on the debate stage for the first time Tuesday night at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Around the world.

- New Zealand Labour has scored big in another election poll, the seventh consecutive major survey to show Jacinda Ardern's party is on track to form a majority government.

- NASA has confirmed it's planning to send a female astronaut to walk on the moon for the very first time, with touchdown on the lunar surface scheduled for 2024.

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty.