The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday October 6.

American 'freedom fighters' march for Australia in New York.

Hundreds of Americans opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers have rallied outside the Australian consulate in New York with signs reading "Save Australia."

Other banners read "What's happening in Melbourne?" and "we will not comply" as the group marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.

"People around the world are not allowed to go to restaurants. I watched my Australian friend live on Instagram, who said he recently lost his job as a health worker," said one man, as reported by the SBS.

"What's going on in Australia is not just going to be Australia. And when it shows up on our doorsteps, we're gonna punch it right in the f***ing teeth."

The group were also protesting against New York's vaccine mandate for teachers and school staff members, which requires them to have had at least one jab by Monday to be able to keep teaching.

Angry protesters knocked over a COVID testing tent on their way through the city, while booing and shouting at the health workers.

Many Australians acted in bemusement at the protests in their honour. 

Gang rapist Mohammed Skaf to walk free on strict parole this week.

Mohammed Skaf, who was 17 when he and his brothers were involved in the rape of four women and schoolgirls in 2000, will be released from prison to his family's western Sydney home this week. 

He will be subjected to electronic monitoring 24 hours a day and strict parole conditions, and will live in a granny flat on his mum's property. 


He has been eligible for parole for 2018, but has been knocked back a number of times, The Daily Telegraph reports because he "had shown no remorse for his crimes and maintained that his victims had consented."

One of the four victims was sexually assaulted more than 40 times by 14 different men, with the judge describing the crimes committed as "worse than murder."

Community Corrections recommended his release, confirming there had been a “significant improvement” in Skaf’s behaviour and attitude towards his offending.

The nine men convicted of the gang rapes were sentenced to a total of more than 240 years in jail.

NSW Premier Perrottet reviews "issues" with the state's roadmap out of lockdown.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has flagged he will review "issues" with the roadmap out of lockdown, days before the state is expected to reach its 70 per cent vaccination milestone. 

In his first press conference after being elected NSW Liberal party leader and premier, Mr Perrottet said he would meet with the Health Minister Brad Hazzard to discuss the roadmap. 

"There are a number of issues that need to be looked at, and obviously, health is our number one priority right now and I will sit down with the minister and the whole team this afternoon," Mr Perrottet said on Tuesday.


When asked whether he would give people in NSW an early mark and ease restrictions before they are scheduled to, the premier said lockdown would still end on October 11.

Across the state, 88.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over had received their first vaccine, and 67.7 per cent were fully vaccinated as of midnight on Monday. 

NSW recorded 608 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and another seven deaths.

The daily case numbers are the lowest since August and it is the fourth day in a row with fewer than 700 cases.

But NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said there had also been "slight decline" in testing numbers.

Six men and one woman with COVID-19 have died, bringing the toll for the current outbreak to 385 deaths.


Five of the people who died were not vaccinated while two had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, more than 140,000 students in NSW regional communities have returned to face-to-face learning at school for the start of term four.

Restrictions have also eased in 19 private hospitals in NSW where non-urgent surgery resumes on Tuesday after it was cancelled in late August due to the pandemic.

Non-urgent surgery at public hospitals remains postponed.

Vic prisons hit by COVID as state records highest numbers of any Australian jurisdiction. 

Dozens of Victorian prisoners and staff are battling COVID-19 as the state's worsening outbreak leaks into jails.

Corrections Victoria on Tuesday confirmed 39 prisoners and 15 staff are among the more than 14,000 active cases in the state.

Of the infected prisoners, 19 are located at the Melbourne Assessment Prison, 11 are at the Metropolitan Remand Centre, five are at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre, three are at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and one is at Port Phillip Prison.

As of Monday, 74 per cent of adults in public and private prisons had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 53 per cent were fully vaccinated.

The first and second dose rates among prison staff are slightly higher, at 82 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.

Victoria is "on track" to ease restrictions as planned despite recording the nation's highest daily number of new COVID-19 infections. 


There were also four deaths on Tuesday; a man in his 80s from the local government area of Whittlesea, a woman in her 70s from Hume, a man in his 60s from Whitehorse and a woman in her 60s from Banyule.

Tuesday's tally is the highest recorded in any Australian state or territory since the start of the pandemic, surpassing NSW's peak of 1599 local cases on September 11.

Despite the spike in infections, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was committed to ending lockdown when 70 per cent of Victorians aged above 16 are fully vaccinated against the virus. Further restrictions are set to ease at the 80 per cent mark. 

FIFO workers to face WA vaccine mandate.

Up to 100,000 fly-in, fly-out workers and others engaged in Western Australia's resources sector will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the beginning of January.

Premier Mark McGowan says the rules will apply to anyone involved in exploration, mining, the oil and gas industries, the wider resources sector, and others who work in remote locations or operate critical infrastructure including rail services.

They will need to have had their first vaccine jabs by December 1.

The rules will also apply to any visitors to mining and exploration operations.

Mr McGowan said the timeline had been established after consultation with the resources sector and to give those involved a chance to get the necessary doses.


"The aim is clear. We want to protect workers and the wider community and their families," the premier said.

"Our goal is also to protect our Aboriginal community and address the obvious risk posed by the movement of resources sector workers to and from regional and remote locations."

Mr McGowan said the new measures were "tough" but necessary to protect workers, their families and regional towns.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies said while it had not requested a vaccine mandate from the WA government or any other government, its members would abide by the new requirements.

Qld may not 'necessarily' open at 80 per cent.

The Queensland premier will not "necessarily" open the state borders once 80 per cent of eligible people are vaccinated, saying hospitals need to be ready for a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused the premier of using the border to "extort" him for more health funding.

"I'm just calling it as I see it," he told Nine's Today program.

"To suggest that they're not going to open the borders unless I send them cash, how else would you like me to call it?"


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk denied that, saying Queensland has signed a letter with all other states and territories calling for a rethink on health funding.

"These are pressures that are being felt right around the country, that's why the health ministers wrote that letter to the federal health minister," she told reporters.

"These are extraordinary times, and the pressures are not unique, and other premiers also raised these issues at national cabinet."

The premier said the states had been raising the issue of federal health funding since before the pandemic began.

Queensland hospitals are already facing huge capacity pressures without a large virus outbreak in the state.

The Australian reported on Tuesday there were 31 'code yellows' - when hospitals start to run out of beds and ambulances are forced to divert to other emergency departments - in September.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath stressed that all states and territories were making a joint push for fresh talks on federal funding, not just her state.

It was incorrect for the prime minister to categorise the health funding debate as a Queensland issue, she said.

"This is a national conversation, it's not a fight between the Commonwealth and Queensland," Ms D'Ath said.

Frydenberg isolating after staff positive.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is in isolation after a member of his staff tested positive to COVID-19.

In a statement, the treasurer said while he has been tested for COVID-19 and returned a negative result, he will out of caution isolate until further notice.

Mr Frydenberg's electorate office in Melbourne has been closed and will undergo deep cleaning.

The treasurer said he was informed of the positive test result of his staff member on Monday night.


"At present the staff member is yet to be contacted by Victorian Health and Human Services contact tracers, which would start the process to determine if my electorate office would be deemed an exposure site," he said.

"Staff members who had been in contact with the COVID-19 positive staff member are being tested and are isolating."

No new virus cases linked to SA infection.

A new exposure site has been identified but no new COVID-19 cases have been reported following the infection in a South Australian woman who spent time in Victoria.

The case, involving a woman in her 40s, has already prompted tough new restrictions for Mt Gambier and two other council areas in SA's southeast.

They include stricter density rules, a limit of two visitors to any home, and bans on private functions and organised sporting activities.

The rules will stay in place for at least seven days.

SA officials also remain concerned about another virus case in an interstate truck driver who visited service stations and truck stops at Ceduna and Port Augusta on Sunday.

Football Australia to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in women's football. 

A former Matilda has made allegations of sexual harassment, indecent assault, grooming and bullying within women's football in Australia with incidents dating back 20 years.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Lisa De Vanna also made allegations about a toxic culture at the top tier of women’s football in Australia. 

"There needs to be consequences," De Vanna said. "There needs to be accountability. I have seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years - from men and women - and girls coming through need to be brave, and also the girls that have been through this also need to be brave and know they are not alone."


"Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes," she added.

She details one alleged incident where she says she was pulled down from behind and dry-humped by some teammates while she kicked and screamed.

Football Australia is forming an independent investigation.

Munster to enter alcohol treatment centre.

A contrite Cameron Munster hopes to win his "battle" with alcohol by entering a treatment facility to help rebuild his future with NRL club Melbourne.

The Storm warned on Tuesday that the star playmaker was on his last chance after post-season video emerged of him partying with a white powder.

Munster, as well as Storm teammates Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis, were sanctioned by the NRL for their antics following their finals exit.

Issued with NRL breach notices on Tuesday alleging they brought the game into disrepute, the trio will miss the 2022 season opener and face various fines, with Munster hardest hit with a $30,000 penalty.


Warriors teenager Reece Walsh faces a two-game ban and a $5000 fine after his Gold Coast arrest which has led to a drug investigation.

Accepting the sanctions, the Melbourne players read statements to the media on Tuesday with Munster admitting he had had a "difficult relationship" with alcohol.

Melbourne have also put Munster on a 12-month booze ban, fined him $100,000 fully suspended and axed him from the leadership group.

NRL boss Andrew Abdo said the four players, who would also undergo education and training, had let the rugby league community down.

If this post brought up any issues for you, you can contact Drug Aware, Australia's 24hr alcohol and drug support line. You can reach them on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024.

America demands regulator probe Facebook. 

US lawmakers have criticised Facebook, accusing CEO Mark Zuckerberg of pushing for higher profits while being cavalier about user safety and demanded that regulators investigate whistleblower accusations that the social media company harms children and stokes divisions.

Coming a day after Facebook and its units including Instagram suffered an outage, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in a congressional hearing that "for more than five hours Facebook wasn't used to deepen divides, destabilise democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies".

In an era when bipartisanship is rare on Capitol Hill, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed on the need for big changes at Facebook.

In an opening statement to a Senate Commerce subcommittee, chair Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Facebook knew its products were addictive, like cigarettes.

"Tech now faces that big tobacco jaw-dropping moment of truth," he said.


He called for Zuckerberg to testify before the committee and for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company.

"Our children are the ones who are victims. Teens today looking in the mirror feel doubt and insecurity. Mark Zuckerberg ought to be looking at himself in the mirror," Blumenthal said, adding that Zuckerberg instead was going sailing.

Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook's civic misinformation team who has turned whistleblower, said Facebook has sought to keep its operations confidential.

"Today, no regulator has a menu of solutions for how to fix Facebook, because Facebook didn't want them to know enough about what's causing the problems. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been need for a whistleblower," she said.

Over 200,000 French clergy abuse victims. 

An investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has found that an estimated 216,000 children were victims of abuse by clergy since 1950, says Jean-Marc Sauve, head of the commission that compiled the report.

The revelations in France are the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church, after a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

The abuse was systemic, Sauve said at a public, online presentation of the report, adding that the Church had shown "deep, total and even cruel indifference for years," protecting itself rather than the victims.

The Church not only did not take the necessary measures to prevent abuse but also turned a blind eye, failing to report abuse and sometimes knowingly putting children in touch with predators, he said on Tuesday.


Speaking just after Sauve at the presentation of the report, the archbishop of Reims and head of the French conference of bishops, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, spoke of shame, asked for forgiveness and promised to act.

The commission was established by Catholic bishops in France at the end of 2018 to shed light on abuses and restore public confidence in the Church at a time of dwindling congregations. It has worked independently from the Church.

Sauve said the commission itself had identified around 2700 victims through a call for testimony, and thousands more had been found in archives. But a wide-ranging study by research and polling groups estimated that there had been around 216,000 victims, and the number could rise to 330,000 when including abuse by lay members.

There have been around 2900-3200 suspected pedophiles in the French Church over the last 70 years, Sauve said.

Around the world.

- Japanese-born American Syukuro Manabe, German Klaus Hasselmann and Italian Giorgio Parisi have won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics for work that helps understand complex physical systems such as Earth's changing climate.

- Military personnel have begun driving tankers to deliver fuel in Britain to ease an acute trucker shortage. 

- Russian cosmonauts, a movie director and an actress have taken off for the International Space Station to shoot the first movie in space.

- With AAP

Feature image:  Michael M. Santiago/Getty/Joel Carrett/Matt McClain-Pool/Getty.

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