The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday May 13.

Police investigating NSW MP over allegations of sexual violence.

An unnamed NSW politician aged in his 30s has been accused of "sexual violence-related offences" dating back eight years.

State police are investigating the allegations, they confirmed on Thursday, which reportedly took place in 2013.

"As investigations are continuing, no further information is available," police said.

It is the second such incident of sexual assault against a NSW MP this year following allegations Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, who has since resigned from parliament, raped a sex worker in 2019.

Mr Johnsen has not been charged by police and denies the allegation, calling it unfair and unfounded.

An unnamed NSW politician aged in his 30s has been accused of "sexual violence-related offences" dating back eight years. Image: Getty. 

Morrison uncommitted to Frydenberg's end-of-year vaccine timeline.

Scott Morrison is giving himself some wriggle room on getting all Australians COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of this year.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters in the federal budget lockup on Tuesday that all willing Australians would receive two doses by December 31.

That will require the weekly pace of the rollout to triple.

But the prime minister is keen to point out it is not a concrete commitment.

"There are assumptions that go to the rollout. They are not policy settings," Morrison said on Wednesday.

"We will continue to roll the vaccine out, as we have been, and accelerating it from next week. We will continue to do everything we possibly can to ensure we're progressing that vaccination program."


Labor health spokesman Mark Butler asked in parliament why a clear answer could not be given on when all Australians would be vaccinated.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was seeking sufficient doses this year to guarantee supply for the population to be offered vaccination. 

As of Wednesday, there had been 2.81 million jabs given, including 76,379 in the past day nationally.

The government will spend an extra $1.9 billion over the coming year to boost its vaccine supply to 170 million doses and speed up the rollout.

On Thursday, US-based biotech company Moderna said Australia had secured 25 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine.


The supply agreement includes two lots, one which protects against the "ancestral" strain of the deadly illness and another which is an updated variant booster jab.

The first, of 10 million doses, will be delivered in 2021 and the second, of 15 million doses, will be delivered in 2022.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says the federal government is in negotiations with global pharmaceutical companies to bring their mRNA vaccine technology to Australia.

Treasury also expects international travel to "remain low" through to mid-2022 before a gradual recovery in international tourism.

In response, Qantas announced on Wednesday it had delayed its planned resumption of international flights until late December.

The airline was due to restart services at the end of October.

Inquiry into PMO knowledge of alleged rape of Brittany Higgins resumes.

An investigation into what those in the prime minister's office knew about the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has resumed after it was paused over fears it could interfere with police.

Former ministerial adviser Ms Higgins says she was raped by a former colleague inside Parliament House in March 2019.

Scott Morrison in February tasked Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens with investigating who in the prime minister's office knew about the allegation and when.

Mr Morrison on Wednesday night confirmed the inquiry had resumed, but said he did not know when its findings would be handed to him.

"I know it's commenced, but I have no knowledge of its conduct," he told the ABC's 7.30 program.

"Why would I? That would be inappropriate. It's an independent, arm's length investigation."

Meanwhile, another investigation into whether members of the prime minister's office tried to discredit Brittany Higgins' loved ones is still going after more than seven weeks.

Scott Morrison ordered his chief of staff to conduct the inquiry after Ms Higgins lodged a formal complaint.

"I expect this process to conclude when all matters have been able to be taken into consideration, including relevant information from Ms Higgins," he told parliament on Wednesday.


Ms Higgins claims senior members of the prime minister's staff gave journalists background briefings against her loved ones, after she went public with claims she was made to feel like a political problem in the wake of her alleged assault.

The prime minister met with Ms Higgins on April 30 to discuss her concerns about parliamentary workplace conditions and the need for an independent complaints process.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

Woman stabbed in Newcastle cafe kitchen.

A man has been charged with attempted murder after a woman was stabbed in the chest in the kitchen of a Newcastle cafe.

Emergency services were called to Onyx Espresso Bar in Mayfield about 2.35pm on Wednesday after reports the 27-year-old had been attacked by a colleague.

Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey told reporters the woman had been hit with a blunt object, before she was stabbed.

The woman was taken under police escort - with the knife still embedded in her chest - to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition before undergoing surgery.

A 23-year-old man who worked with the woman was arrested nearby a short time later.

He has been charged with attempted murder and wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was refused bail to appear in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.


Liberals secure majority government in Tasmania.

Tasmania has a majority Liberal government after the party secured a crucial 13th seat in the state's lower house.

Former Labor MP and independent Madeleine Ogilvie was re-elected as a Liberal in the Hobart-based electorate of Clark on Wednesday night.

Premier Peter Gutwein, who declared victory on election night on May 1, had pledged to resign if the party couldn't get the numbers for a majority.

It is the first time the Liberals have won three straight terms in Tasmania. 

Labor has nine seats and the Greens retained their two, making the composition of the parliament almost the same as when the election was called. 

Israel kills Hamas commander, rockets rain.

Israel says it has killed 16 members of the Hamas armed wing in Gaza in a barrage and Palestinian militants rained rockets into Israel as the US said it would send an envoy to try to calm their most intense hostilities in years.

At least 56 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Six people have been killed in Israel, medical officials said.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the brigade commander for Gaza City was among senior members of Hamas who had been killed.

"This is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible," he said.

Soon after the announcement, a new rocket barrage was fired at the Israeli city of Ashdod and Israeli media said the military was preparing for new salvos on the Tel Aviv area.

Hamas confirmed the death of the commander and of "other leaders and holy warriors" in a statement.

Its leader Ismail Haniyeh added: "The confrontation with the enemy is open-ended."

A Palestinian source said truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations had made no progress to end violence that flared this week after tension during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and clashes in East Jerusalem.

The fighting is the heaviest between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave and concern is growing that the situation could spiral out of control.

In Gaza, a multi-storey residential building and a tower housing Hamas and other media outlets collapsed after Israel warned occupants in advance to evacuate and another structure was heavily damaged in the air strikes.

Other air strikes hit what Israel's military said were rocket launch sites, Hamas offices and homes of Hamas leaders.

Derek Chauvin could face longer sentence for George Floyd death.

A Minnesota judge has ruled that aggravating factors were involved in the death of George Floyd, opening the possibility of a longer sentence for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, a white former officer convicted in a Minnesota state court of murdering Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, during an arrest last May, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.


In a six-page ruling dated Tuesday, District Court Judge Peter Cahill found that prosecutors had proven Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, committed the crime as a group and did so with children present, all aggravating factors.

A jury convicted Chauvin, 45, of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter on April 20 after hearing three weeks of testimony in a highly publicised trial.

Three other former officers who were at the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death and are set to go on trial on August 23.

Cahill, who presided over the trial, will also sentence Chauvin, who technically faces a combined maximum 75 years in prison if the sentences run consecutively.

Independent review panel aims to stop another pandemic ever reaching level of COVID-19.

A new global system should be set up to respond faster to disease outbreaks to help ensure no future virus causes a pandemic as devastating as COVID-19, an independent World Health Organisation review panel says.

The experts found crucial shortcomings in the global response in early 2020 - including a delay in declaring an emergency, a failure to impose travel restrictions and an entire "lost month" when countries neglected to respond to warnings - that let the virus quickly spread into a crippling pandemic.

"It is critical to have an empowered WHO," panel co-chair and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark told reporters on the launch of the report "COVID-19: Make It the Last Pandemic".


Health ministers will debate the findings at the WHO's annual assembly opening on May 24.

The experts noted that Chinese doctors in the central city of Wuhan had reported cases of unusual pneumonia in December 2019, with the WHO picking up reports from the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control and others.

But when the WHO's Emergency Committee met on January 22, it stopped short of declaring an international health emergency.

That declaration did not come until eight days later, costing crucial time.

Governments, meanwhile, failed to grasp that the emergency declaration was the WHO's "loudest possible alarm," the experts said.

Instead of preparing their hospitals for COVID-19 patients, many countries engaged in a "winner-takes-all" scramble for protective equipment and medicines, it said.

Ellen DeGeneres to end US talk show.

Ellen DeGeneres will end her daytime talk show after 19 years, the comedian has told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview.

DeGeneres will discuss the decision on Thursday's show with guest Oprah Winfrey, the entertainment publication said.


"When you're a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore," DeGeneres said in the interview.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show debuted in 2003 and has won more than 60 Emmy awards.

Last year, three top producers exited the show and DeGeneres apologised after reports of a toxic work environment, promising "a new chapter".

Around the world.

- Fiji's Central Division will go into a 'major lockdown' on Friday night following nine new COVID-19 cases.

- India's daily coronavirus-linked death count has hit 4,205, setting a new daily record and taking the total fatalities due to the disease in the country past 250,000.

- The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have clashed with China at the United Nations over the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, angering officials in Beijing by hosting a virtual event that China had lobbied UN members to stay away from.

- US House of Representatives Republicans have voted to remove their House No 3 Liz Cheney from leadership, punishing her for criticising former president Donald Trump's claims about election fraud.

With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty.

Want a cheeky $50? Tell us what you think