The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday March 25.

NSW MP on leave after rape allegation.

Detectives are investigating claims a current NSW government MP raped a sex worker in the Blue Mountains in 2019, as a Nationals politician admits he is helping police with inquiries.

Labor's Trish Doyle, the Blue Mountains MP, used parliamentary privilege on Wednesday to allege an unnamed MP raped the sex worker after she did not consent to penetrative sex.

"It is all the worse that this man who raped her is a government member of this chamber... his power and privileged position as a civic leader make that fear, anger and hurt all the worse," Ms Doyle told the NSW lower house.

Later in the day Nationals MP Michael Johnsen announced he was taking leave immediately and stepping aside from his Parliamentary Secretary role.

"I am devastated by these allegations," he said in a statement, without outlining details of any claim.

"I have voluntarily spoken with NSW Police and I have and will continue to fully cooperate with their inquiries.

"I am confident any investigation will conclude that I am an innocent party."

NSW Police said they were aware of Ms Doyle's allegation and were investigating the matter.

Two men die in the floods in both NSW and QLD.

A Pakistani national on his first day of a new contracting job has died after his car was trapped in flood waters at Glenorie in northwest Sydney - the first death resulting from this week's floods in NSW.

Police responded to the car being trapped in floodwaters on Cattai Ridge Road about 6.25am on Wednesday.


The vehicle was found after 1pm with the man's body inside.

Detective Inspector Chris Laird later said the 25-year-old was in a newly-hired Toyota Camry vehicle and was on his first day of a new contracting job.

A young family has been plunged into grief after Queensland also recorded its first death in the floods.

Late on Wednesday water rescue crews and police divers fought strong currents to reach a ute submerged in the swollen Canungra Creek inland from the Gold Coast.

Inside the upturned vehicle they found the body of 38-year-old husband and father David Hornman, last seen leaving his father's house nearby on Monday morning.


His desperate wife spent the past two days pleading for information on social media.

"I just have to know he's ok. Please tell him no matter what I LOVE HIM," Angela Hornman wrote on her page, saying he left for work on Monday but never made it.

Folbigg's appeal overturned, as experts continue to fight for her.

Kathleen Folbigg has failed in a bid to overturn a finding of her "certain" guilt of killing her four children, despite having some science on her side.

The NSW Court of Appeal on Wednesday dismissed Folbigg's judicial review application, upholding the results of a 2019 inquiry by former NSW District Court chief judge Reginald Blanch QC.

He found significant investigations had failed to find a reasonable natural explanation for any of the deaths of Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, who all died before their second birthday in the decade to 1999.

Folbigg's own explanations and behaviour in respect of her diaries, which weren't available in any of the mother's criminal appeals, made "her guilt of these offences even more certain", Mr Blanch concluded.

The appeal court found there was "ample basis" for Mr Blanch's conclusion.

"This was not a case in which the judicial officer's conclusion was at odds with the scientific evidence," the court said.


"The scientific evidence raised a theoretical possibility that there were innocent explanations for the deaths of the two girls."

That theory focused on changing levels of amino acids in the body, including that the change was hereditary.

Scores of scientists have called for Folbigg to be pardoned by the NSW governor, claiming the latest court process didn't examine new scientific evidence available since Mr Blanch's inquiry.

The petition currently before NSW Governor and former senior judge Margaret Beazley deals with matters not considered by the appeal court, its authors said. 

Porter and Reynolds to lose jobs in Cabinet reshuffle.

It's being reported Christian Porter is set to be stripped of his Attorney-General portfolio as the Prime Minister prepares to announce a reshuffle of his Cabinet as early as Friday.

Mr Porter has been on medical leave since outing himself as the minister against whom an historic rape allegation had been made. To avoid a conflict of interest while he fights a defamation case against the ABC over the breaking of the story, some of Porter's roles have been delegated to other ministers while the case is before the courts.

The ABC reports it's expected Porter will remain in Cabinet, possibly retaining his Industrial Relations portfolio, while Defence Minister Linda Reynolds is also reportedly likely to be shifted from her existing portfolio after criticism for her handling of Brittany Higgin's rape allegation.


Peter Dutton will reportedly replace her in Defence.

Michaelia Cash is in line to replace Porter as the nation's chief law officer.

Former Liberal staffer Peta Credlin speaks of gay "orgies" at Parliament House. 

Sky News host Peta Credlin has accused Liberal staffers of holding gay “orgies” at Parliament House and says she sacked one of the men involved in the masturbating videos a decade ago and vowed he "would never set foot in the building again."

“The bloke who was sacked this week was someone I sacked years earlier. He never forgave me for it. He backgrounded to journalists about me that I was a bitch, too tough, all the things you’ve heard before,” she said.

“You never heard my side of it, did you? I sacked him and I said he would never be back again in that building. Turnbull rolled Abbott, I was gone and he was back.”

Credlin says details of the orgies were uncovered when another man was sacked for "disloyalty" and evidence of sexual behaviour was found when the staffer's desk was cleaned out.

"That MP uncovered evidence that for many months that staffer had regularly met with other men, in the middle of the day, when the MP was in question time, for orgies in political offices,” Ms Credlin said during her show on Wednesday night.

Morrison offers women another 'mea culpa.'

The prime minister has again promised to listen and help improve the treatment of women after his first attempt spectacularly backfired.

Scott Morrison conceded he had more work to do, but argued it was not for him or other "blokes" to offer up solutions.


"What I must do first is demonstrate that I am listening and that I am understanding the pain that so many Australian women are feeling," he told parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Morrison has taken on personal responsibility for responding to a national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, which has been gathering dust for more than a year.

The prime minister said his response would be released before the federal budget in May.

He also plans to raise sexual harassment laws with state and territory leaders at the next meeting of national cabinet.

During a nationally televised press conference on Tuesday, the prime minister weaponised an alleged complaint about workplace misconduct inside a media company to shield himself from scrutiny.

Mr Morrison was later forced to apologise for airing the false claim of harassment.

Senior Libs not committed to gender quotas.

Senior members of the federal Liberal Party remain uncommitted to gender quotas after Scott Morrison suggested he was open to the idea.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he wanted at least 50 per cent of places in the coalition party room held by women.

Mr Hunt said the party "can and must do better".

"We've got more to do. Whatever way will get us there, I am open to."

But he is not prepared to say he supports introducing gender quotas, which the Liberal Party has long resisted.


"I support the outcome and I am very open as to the means," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

The minister said gender equity could be achieved through what he described as "active management" but if that failed, quotas could achieve the desired result.

Some Liberals have expressed reservations about gender quotas but senior female frontbenchers have argued it was time they were introduced.

The Liberal Party has spent years pushing back against gender quotas, relying instead on non-binding targets.

QLD minister details grope at parliament.

Queensland health minister Yvette D'Ath has told state parliament she was groped by a visiting dignitary when she was working as attorney-general.

Her comments were made on Wednesday as parliament debated a motion condemning the harassment and assault of women and supporting a right to safety.

"How about two years ago as the attorney-general when I was groped ... at a conference in this parliament?" Ms D'Ath said.

"This is still happening today. It has to stop," she said.


Australia no longer relies on foreign jabs.

Australia is no longer reliant on insecure international supplies of coronavirus vaccines after the national medical regulator approved locally made doses.

The first batch of Australian-made AstraZeneca drugs has been approved, with about 500,000 doses to go out each week.

Health Minister Greg Hunt declared "the trucks are rolling" as the locally produced vaccines are dispatched across the country.

"This provides the security of supply for the Australian general population rollout, which is fundamental," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt said the European Union had put in place some "very challenging" hurdles to getting supplies to Australia.

"But we are in a strong position because of this Australian production."

Appearing before a Senate estimates committee, Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy admitted the European Union had blocked more than one shipment of coronavirus vaccines.

AstraZeneca has been trying to get much more to Australia but has been unable to deliver.

COVID-19 restrictions to be eased in NSW, VIC, SA.

Masks will no longer be mandatory in NSW from Monday, will all restrictions on dancing and singing lifted, and unlimited numbers allowed at weddings and funerals.

Coronavirus restrictions will further ease in Victoria from 6pm on Friday - with masks no longer required to be worn in retail settings and will only be mandatory on public transport, inside ride share vehicles and taxis, as well as in sensitive settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals.


Private gathering numbers will increase to 100 people, up from 30 visitors. Public outdoor gatherings will double to 200 people, and the cap for office workers will be removed. 

South Australia will ease some of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions next Wednesday. The one person to every two square metres requirement will change to three people to every four square metres, and patron caps on venues such as churches, theatres and cinemas from 75 to 100 per cent, provided all people wear masks.

Queen's grandchild Zara Tindall gives birth to a baby boy.

The daughter of Princess Anne, Zara Tindall, gave birth to her son Lucas Philip on a gym mat on the bathroom floor on Sunday night.

In the official statement, the couple revealed that the baby’s second name was indeed a nod to his great-grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, 99.

The baby, weighing 3.74kg, was born at Princess Anne’s Gloucestershire estate, two and a half hours’ drive west of London.

The couple already have two older children, Mia, 7, and Lena, 2.

Around the world.

- Demonstrators have staged a so-called "silent strike" across Myanmar with protesters staying home and many businesses closing. The military has now released 600 anti-coup protesters according to local media.

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty/NSW Parliament/Sky News.