The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday October 12.

More NSW restrictions on the way as millions enjoy freedoms.

Rain didn't put a dampener on NSW's first day of freedom after months of lockdown, with thousands flooding the pubs and flocking to the salon.

But crowds could soon be back in stadiums and nightclubs across the state, with NSW already on the verge of another critical COVID-19 vaccination milestone.

More than 80 per cent of the population will be fully vaccinated as soon as next Monday, the next threshold for easing restrictions.

As of Sunday - when another 496 new locally acquired cases were recorded in NSW as well as eight deaths - 74 per cent of the state's population had received two doses of a vaccine.

In the meantime, NSW residents made the most of 'Freedom Day' on Monday.

Gyms, cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers opened again, and people were allowed to travel more than five kilometres from home.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are also permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.


But as the lockdown ends, a "lockout" of the unvaccinated comes into place, with only the double-jabbed able to enjoy restored freedoms until they can rejoin on December 1.

While authorities, business owners and hospitality staff were nervous about potential conflict with unvaccinated people denied entry and in-venue service, most in NSW were on their best behaviour.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for patience and goodwill to continue, as businesses readjust and get used to checking their customers' vaccination status.

"There's no doubt there will be teething issues... but if we look out for each other, if we respect each other, we'll be able to make sure that NSW gets through this period of time and comes stronger out the other side," he said on Monday.

Unlike his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian, Mr Perrottet said he had no concerns labelling Monday a "Freedom Day" for the state but reiterated that existing restrictions must still be followed.

ACT to outline plans for easing lockdown.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will on Tuesday further detail how Canberra will emerge out of COVID-19 lockdown, ahead of stay-at-home orders easing later this week.

Canberra's lockdown will end on October 15, which will see the reopening of cafes, bars, restaurants and gyms, with up to five visitors allowed in the home.

While the ACT's road map out of lockdown has already been unveiled, Mr Barr said finer detail would be announced on Tuesday ahead of the reopening.

Mr Barr said an announcement was also expected later this week on travel arrangements between ACT and NSW once Canberra ends its lockdown.


"I also hope by probably Wednesday or Thursday to have confirmation from NSW as to how they regard the ACT in terms of their own COVID arrangements."

Canberrans can still face heavy fines for crossing the border for the next few days for non-essential reasons, following the easing of restrictions in NSW.

Further relaxation of travel restrictions between the two jurisdictions is expected in coming weeks, in line with NSW allowing freedoms to the unvaccinated in December.

The ACT on Monday also became the first jurisdiction in the country to record 70 per cent of its residents aged over 12 being fully vaccinated.

There are now 71.1 per cent of over-12s having both doses while 97.8 per cent have had one dose.

Mr Barr said Canberra was on track to become one of the most vaccinated cities in the world.

Qld hints at timeline for opening borders.

The Queensland government has hinted at its plans for re-opening the state's borders, indicating "the next five to six weeks" are crucial for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says unvaccinated Queenslanders need to get the jab, with 70 per cent of eligible people in the state having had one dose by Sunday.

Ms D'Ath hinted at a timeline when asked the vaccine target for reopening the borders to NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

"The target is getting yourself protected in the next five to six weeks. That is your mission," she said.


"Get yourself protected and that helps protect our whole community and allows us to open up."

The government has not recommitted to opening the borders once vaccination coverage reaches 80 per cent.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the state has modelled reopening at 80 per cent, but she would prefer if vaccine coverage reached 95 per cent.

"It shows that we would be stretched, of course we would be, which is why I don't want to stop at 80 per cent," she said.

"I would like to see every single Queenslander, 12 years of age or older, vaccinated. I think that's absolutely critical. 

"The more Queenslanders who are vaccinated, the less the impact will be on our health system."

But Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the state government should provide certainty to businesses, particularly those in the tourism sector, and Queenslanders wanting to travel interstate.

The state recorded zero new local cases on Monday after a Sydney man visited Brisbane Airport while infectious over the weekend.

Older Victorians given access to Pfizer and Moderna.

Older Victorians who have held back on getting the AstraZeneca jab can now access Pfizer and Moderna as the state races to re-open.

Health Minister Martin Foley said there was now enough vaccine supply in Victoria to open all brands to every age group eligible for inoculation.

"This change, which is now in effect, has been made possible by the relative certainty we now have for both Moderna and Pfizer, and the extraordinary number of young people who have come forward over the past three and a half weeks," he told reporters on Monday.


Previously people over 60 were only able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at state hubs.

As of Sunday, 85.8 per cent of Victorians over 16 had received their first vaccine, including 92.9 per cent of people over 50.

The number of people in hospital continues to rise, with 677 patients including 133 in intensive care and 94 of them on a ventilator.

It comes after the state government announced up to 10,000 racing fans will be allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup on November 2.

New SA COVID-19 case prompts concern.

A fly-in, fly-out mine worker from Victoria is the latest positive COVID-19 case to cause concern in South Australia, prompting a number of new exposure sites.


The woman, in her 30s, flew into Adelaide on Sunday evening, was tested at the airport and then went by taxi to a city hotel.

Given her test result, she was considered highly infectious at the time, prompting SA Health to declare the hotel and the Jetstar flight JQ778 from Melbourne to be tier-one exposure sites.

The taxi driver who picked her up at the airport has also been forced into isolation for 14 days.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said anyone on the flight, including the crew, would be contacted, but should already be in home quarantine after coming from Victoria.

A second COVID-19 case has also been reported in a co-driver of an interstate truckie who tested positive last week.

Professor Spurrier said it was not surprising the second driver had now contracted the virus. 

Despite the new infections, Prof Spurrier reiterated earlier comments that South Australia still expected to ease border restrictions with NSW and Victoria in time for Christmas and that would likely mean more virus cases.

However, she said some restrictions and border arrangements could remain in place, depending on the level of disease in those states.

Pregnant mum found murdered in Melbourne home described as "beautiful soul."

Victoria Police are continuing their investigation into the death of Michelle Darragh, 32, who died in a home in Bayswater North on Saturday night.


The pregnant mother-of-two and a man, believed to be her former partner Ben Corman, 29, were found with life threatening injuries at 07:30pm. 

While she died at the scene, he was taken to hospital in a critical condition. 

Her family told The Age, the couple shared two sons and had a third child together on the way but had split weeks ago.

Her brother told 9NEWS his sister was "a beautiful soul who put everyones needs before herself".

Police said the exact circumstances of the incident were being investigated by the homocide squad.

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. 

Vic stacking scandal claims fourth scalp.

Luke Donnellan has become the fourth Victorian minister to leave cabinet as part of the branch stacking scandal engulfing the state's Labor government.

Mr Donnellan, who held the portfolios of child protection, ageing, disability and carers, announced he would step down from Premier Daniel Andrews' cabinet immediately. 

His resignation came just hours after federal MP Anthony Byrne on Monday told an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiry branch stacking was "out of control" in Victoria. 


Mr Byrne said both he and Mr Donnellan paid Labor Party membership fees on behalf of others as part of a "well-entrenched" operation led by former powerbroker Adem Somyurek.

He told the inquiry he spent about $10,000 in the past five years on memberships, while cash from Labor Party fundraisers went into a "kitty" kept in his office and used for the same purposes.

Mr Byrne said Mr Donnellan and Mr Somyurek would have spent "roughly the same amount, perhaps more in the past couple of years".

Mr Somyurek quit the Labor Party last year before he was expelled following an investigation by The Age and 60 Minutes, which caught him handing over cash and using parliamentary staff to create fake branch members.

His factional allies Robin Scott and Marlene Kairouz also resigned from cabinet following the expose. 

Branch stacking involves recruiting or signing up members to a political party's local branch to influence candidate pre-selections. It is not illegal, but is against Labor Party rules to pay for other's memberships. 

No UK police action against Prince Andrew.

British police say they will be taking no further action after conducting a review of evidence relating to sex crime allegations against  Prince Andrew, a friend of the US financier Jeffrey Epstein.

London's police chief, Cressida Dick, said in August that detectives would look at the allegations for a third time although they would not start an investigation, after Virginia Giuffre filed a US lawsuit accusing the prince of sexual assault which he has always denied.


She had said at the time that "no one is above the law".

"As a matter of procedure MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) officers reviewed a document released in August 2021 as part of a US civil action," the police said in a statement on Monday.

"This review has concluded and we are taking no further action."

In her civil lawsuit, Giuffre, 38, has accused Andrew of forcing her to have sex when she was underage at the London home of Epstein's longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell.

She also said Andrew, 61, abused her at Epstein's mansion in Manhattan, and on Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands.

The British royal, the ninth in line to the throne, has always denied those allegations or having any relationship with Giuffre.

He was forced to step down from royal duties over his friendship with Epstein, who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while being held on sex-trafficking charges.

The Sunday Times had reported this week that London police had spoken to Giuffre regarding her allegations.

Last week, lawyers for Andrew, the Queen's second son, were given permission to examine a confidential 2009 agreement between Epstein and Giuffre which they hope will absolve him from all liability in the case. 

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. 


Climate target can lower health risks says WHO.

Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the World Health Organisation has made a strong call for ambitious new climate change targets.

"The burning of fossil fuels is killing us," it said in Geneva on Monday.

"Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity."

In 10 recommendations, the WHO demanded, among other things, better quality of life in cities, priority for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users and a sustainable agricultural economy.

An appeal was issued by 300 associations, on behalf of 45 million caregivers worldwide, to governments to adopt tougher climate action.

Improvements in climate protection would have an enormous positive effect on health, according to the WHO, and it could save considerable costs that arise from illness.

Meanwhile Prince Charles has warned the world leaders – including Scott Morrison – that the Glasgow COP2G summit is a "last chance saloon" for climate change action expressing surprise that the Australian Prime Minister may not even turn up.

"Is that what he says is it? ... well... I'm trying to say all the time - the point being - this is our last chance to move literally."


Dolphins set to be named NRL's newest club.

Redcliffe have won the NRL's expansion race, with the Dolphins poised to be unveiled as the competition's 17th club this week.

The favourites to win the NRL's newest licence, a meeting of the competition's expansion assessment committee (EAC) last Friday has seemingly rubber-stamped Redcliffe's position as the preferred bid.

News Corp reported on Monday the EAC had held further discussions with the Dolphins following last week's meeting.

It's expected the winning bid will be announced later this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

Rival bids, the Brisbane Firehawks and the Brisbane Jets, say they have been given no official indication of the EAC's recommendation.

Around the world.

- Singapore recorded 3700 new COVID cases over the weekend, but with 85 per cent of the country's adult population vaccinated over 98 per cent experienced mild to no symptoms.

- New Zealand has reported 35 new community cases of COVID-19, prompting Jacinda Ardern's government to keep Auckland in lockdown for a ninth straight week.

- Washington says the first face-to-face meeting between senior US and Taliban officials since the group's takeover in Afghanistan was "candid and professional" and the US reiterated the Taliban would be judged on their actions, not just words.

- With AAP

Feature image:  Gaye Gerard - Pool/Getty/Dan Kitwood/Getty

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