The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday May 7.

Sydneysiders mask up as 'double mutant' virus link sought.

NSW Health is racing to investigate a new 'double mutant' COVID-19 variant from India that is at the centre of Sydney's latest cases.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant shared yesterday the Sydney couple who have tested positive this week at the first locally acquired cases of the B.1.617 mutation, currently spreading rapidly abroad.

Authorities believe at least one other person within the community is unknowingly infected with the virus.

Sydneysiders are again wearing masks on public transport, in supermarkets and Uber rides as health officials race to figure out how the virus escaped hotel quarantine.

Restrictions for Greater Sydney were reimposed on Wednesday, including mandatory masks in indoor settings, a 20-person cap on indoor gatherings, and a ban on singing.

A health alert was issued on Thursday evening for Haymarket restaurant XOPP. Diners present between 1.30 and 2.30pm last Wednesday must be tested and self-isolate until they're negative.

A number of venues have been listed as places where fellow attendees are close contacts who must isolate for 14 days, including the exclusive Royal Sydney Golf Club, a CBD optometrist, and other venues in Paddington, Rushcutters Bay, Moore Park and Collaroy.

Other places - including a number of barbecue shops throughout Sydney - are lower-risk, with fellow visitors asked to isolate until they receive a negative result. 

There are also alerts for venues Bondi Trattori in the east and Fratelli Fresh in Westfield Sydney.  

New Zealand called a time-out on the travel bubble with NSW on Thursday, suspending quarantine-free travel from the state for 48 hours starting first thing Friday. 


The relative idyll period in NSW was broken after a Sydney man in his 50s tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.

"We know for a fact there's at least one person, if not more, walking around with the virus, not knowing they have it or potentially having attended many events and venues ... this is a proportionate response," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. 

But she urged businesses to stay open and Sydneysiders to show up for their Mother's Day reservations on Sunday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Thursday the man's wife had also returned a positive result, but other close contacts had so far tested negative.

The man's COVID-19 infection is the same strain as a man who was diagnosed in hotel quarantine, but there is no direct link between the two.

Health officials are now racing to find the link between the cases.

Repatriation flights from India to resume on May 15.

Scott Morrison has announced the restart of Australian repatriation flights from India after a proposal was approved by the cabinet national security committee on Thursday.

The committee signed off on the plan to start repatriating Australians stranded in India from May 15, as soon as the current travel ban lifts.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban had done its job to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections in hotel quarantine.

"That biosecurity order is working as exactly as it was intended to, and that will remain in place with no change until 15 May," Morrison said.


"National Security Committee of Cabinet has confirmed that it will have done its job by then, and as a result we see no need to extend it beyond that date."

Three repatriation flights will land in Darwin in May bringing back the "most urgent of cases", he said.

The flights will initially only go to the Howard Springs facility near Darwin.

The travel ban is in place until May 15, with about 9000 Australians stuck in India including 900 listed as "vulnerable".

The impact of the travel ban will be probed on Friday by a Senate committee which will hear from Australia's high commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrell.

The committee will also talk to Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, who penned the advice behind the ban.

Concerns have been raised the ban is backed by biosecurity regulations which come with potential fines and even jail terms for breaches.

However, the government insists they are only there for the most serious threats to biosecurity.

Porter wants parts of ABC defence erased.

Former attorney-general Christian Porter is seeking to strike out parts of the ABC's defence in defamation proceedings concerning historical rape allegations.

The public broadcaster's defence contains material that is "evasive or ambiguous" and/or "scandalous", according to an application filed on behalf of Mr Porter.


The ABC filed its defence on Tuesday evening but it is yet to be released by the Federal Court.

Mr Porter in March launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for publishing what he says are "false accusations" he was the subject of historical rape allegations.

The woman at the centre of the allegations died in June 2020.

Since the report's February 26 publication, the West Australian MP has changed roles from attorney-general to industry, science and technology minister.

Mr Porter's application, filed Wednesday and published Thursday afternoon, seeks to strike out one paragraph of the defence and three schedules.

It also seeks an order preventing publication of the three schedules until further order of the court.

The material in the schedules is of a scandalous, frivolous or vexatious nature, is evasive or ambiguous, or are otherwise an abuse of the process of the court, Mr Porter's application claims, referencing phrases in Federal Court Rules.


The court is also asked to order the ABC to provide more information on certain denials outlined in the defence.

The parties are due to face off virtually in court for the first time on Friday morning, before Justice Jayne Jagot.

While the report referred to an unnamed cabinet minister, Google searches for Christian Porter after the article's publication spiked to a greater extent than any other male frontbencher, his lawyers state in court documents.

By March 3, a Google search of "who is the minister accused of rape" would return Mr Porter's name, and Mr Porter was widely identified on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, the lawyers say.

Mr Porter revealed himself as the subject of the allegations on March 3.

Milligan is also accused of directing her Twitter followers before March 3 to the #cabinetminister hashtag, through which Mr Porter was identified by members of the public.

Mr Porter is seeking aggravated damages, costs and removal of the article and related material on the internet.

Hayne jury believed victim, so did judge.

In the judge's mind, the honesty of the young woman who accused disgraced former NRL star Jarryd Hayne of raping her was never in doubt.

District Court Judge Helen Syme - who jailed Hayne on Thursday for five years and nine months with a minimum three years and eight months - said a jury believed the woman's story and so did she.

Judge Syme was convinced the woman told Hayne clearly and firmly she did not want any sexual activity with him in her bedroom on the night of the 2018 NRL grand final, but he ignored her, perhaps not realising he could be refused.

Read more: Jarryd Hayne has been sentenced to a maximum of five years and nine months for sexual assault.

The judge said she had rejected Hayne's version of events and for reasons best known to himself was maintaining his innocence despite a jury of seven men and five women finding him guilty in March of two counts of sexual assault during a retrial in Sydney.

He was found not guilty of the two more serious charges of aggravated sexual assault without consent inflicting actual bodily harm.

The first jury in Newcastle was discharged in December after failing to reach a verdict.


Judge Syme, who described the young woman as having been physically overwhelmed by the much stronger and bigger Hayne, said she accepted the ex-footballer was a loving father of two. 

But he had shown no remorse or realised he had to change his attitude to consent, to sex and to women.

Giving evidence on Thursday about the impact the charges had had on his livelihood, he said he was set to sign a $500,000 one-year deal with St George Illawarra on the day he was charged.

"As soon as the charges were laid, it (the deal) was put to bed I guess," Hayne told the court.


The crown case against Hayne, 33, was he arrived drunk at the woman's house on the outskirts of Newcastle about 9pm on September 30, 2018. He stayed for about 45 minutes, committed two sex acts on her without her consent, involving digital penetration and oral sex, before causing two separate injuries to her genitalia before leaving.

The woman, now 28, told the jury Hayne tried to kiss and touch her but when she said "no" and "stop" he pushed her head into the pillow, ripped off her trousers and attacked her.

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. 

Driver arrested after Vic truck hit and run.

A driver has been arrested after his truck ploughed into a traffic light in central Melbourne, leaving five pedestrians injured, including two critically.

The truck driver did not stop to help the injured after the crash near the intersection of City Road and Power Street at Southbank on Thursday night.

While performing a left-hand turn, the B-double tanker is believed to have cut the corner and mounted the footpath before taking out the traffic light which fell to the ground.

Five people on the street, four men and a woman all believed to be aged in their 20s to 30s, suffered lower body injuries in the crash and were taken to hospital.

Two of the men are critically injured, while the three other pedestrians are in a serious but stable condition.

A motorist who saw the crash unfold followed the truck as it continued to travel along Power Street.


The information they relayed helped police track down the truck at Truganina in the city's outer west and arrest the driver.

The 64-year-old man from Wyndham Vale is being interviewed by police, with charges yet to be laid.

Major crash detectives are expected to remain at the cordoned-off scene overnight.

TGA announces five clotting cases linked to AZ vaccine.

A Queensland man is in intensive care with blood clots after receiving a coronavirus vaccine, as the state prepares to order some Sydney travellers into hotel quarantine.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the 66-year-old suffered abdominal pains after receiving his first AstraZeneca jab in Townsville on March 30.

He was taken to hospital to be treated for thrombosis and remains in ICU.

"So of course my thoughts go out to him and to his family, and it's a very difficult time for them," Dr Young told reporters on Thursday.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said the man was one of five new clotting cases linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, taking the total to 11.

They also include a 70-year-old Tasmanian man, a 74-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman from Victoria, and a 64-year-old woman from Western Australia.

The government has already advised people under the age of 50 to preference the Pfizer jab.

TGA head John Skerritt said there was nothing unusual about a small number of over 50s developing rare blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca vaccine.


"If you're only giving a medicine or vaccine for people over 50, that's the only group who will see an adverse event," he said.

Professor Skerritt said the risk of COVID-19 was far greater to older people than adverse reactions to vaccines.

"By being vaccinated we're not only protecting ourselves, but we're also protecting our loved ones, especially the older, more frail ones, and those around us in the community," he said.

Cutting methane key to curb warming: UN.

Cutting the super-potent greenhouse gas methane quickly and dramatically is the world's best hope to slow and limit the worst of global warming, a new United Nations report says.

If human-caused methane emissions are cut by nearly in half by 2030, a 0.3C-amount of warming can be prevented by mid-century, according to Thursday's report by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The report said the methane reduction would be relatively inexpensive and could be achieved by plugging leaks in pipelines, stopping venting of natural gas during energy drilling, capturing gas from landfills and reducing methane from belching livestock and other agricultural sources.

Doing so could also prevent about 250,000 deaths a year from pollution-triggered health problems, the UN said.

United Nations Environment Programme Director Inger Andersen said without both methane and carbon dioxide reductions the world cannot achieve the goals in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Study lead author Drew Shindell, a Duke University Earth sciences professor, said recent acceleration of methane emissions "is really taking us far far off" the Paris goals.

Methane reduction can provide short-term help in the long effort to curb global warming because it is more potent yet shorter-lived than carbon dioxide, Shindell said.

Around the world.

- Voters in Scotland are casting ballots today in elections that could determine the future of the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon's SNP has promised to hold another Scottish independence referendum if it wins an outright majority.

- At least 25 people, including a police officer, have been killed in a shootout during an operation against drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro's Jacarezinho slum, making it the deadliest single police operation in the state.

- The US secretary of state has told Russia to cease all "reckless and aggressive actions" towards Ukraine, weeks after Russia deployed thousands of soldiers near the Ukrainian border.

-With AAP.

Feature image: AAP/Getty.