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The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday November 30.

PM calls urgent national cabinet to discuss Omicron response.

The prime minister has called an emergency national cabinet to discuss the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Federal, state and territory leaders will convene on Tuesday to decide on quarantine arrangements after Victoria, NSW and the ACT installed a 72-hour quarantine requirement for all international travellers.

Australia has shut its borders to eight southern African nations as health authorities race to gather more information about the variant, which appears to be more transmissible.

Currently, five cases of the variant are confirmed in Australia: four in recent arrivals to Sydney, and one man at the Northern Territory's Howard Springs quarantine facility.

All cases are fully vaccinated and currently asymptomatic.

Late on Monday the Morrison government also announced it was delaying the reopening of international borders to skilled workers, international students and other visa holders.

The border ban was to be lifted to those groups of travellers on Wednesday, but Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly advised that be paused until December 15.

Professor Kelly said the current uncertainty was what concerned authorities, and the 72-hour quarantine would give national cabinet and Australia's primary vaccine advisory body time to gather more information before deciding on a path forward. 

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Professor Kelly said that while Omicron appeared to be highly transmissible, the world was still working to determine if it increases hospitalisations or deaths.

Nearly 87 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

Victoria on Monday reported 1007 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths.

There were 150 new infections in NSW, seven in the ACT and two in the NT.

Read more: Here's why you shouldn't be panicking about the new COVID variant, Omicron.

Federal election likely for early May.

The federal budget will be brought forward to March 29, as the prime minister weighs up an election in early May.

A parliamentary program tabled on Monday sets out 10 sitting days between January and March.

Budgets are normally delivered in May.

Scott Morrison used the same tactic in 2019, bringing forward the budget to April 2 before seeking an election writ nine days later. The election was held on May 18.

Vic govt scrambles for extra vote for pandemic legislation.

The Victorian government is scrambling to secure the extra vote needed to pass its controversial pandemic legislation before the bill is debated in parliament. 

The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill is on the top of the upper house's agenda when parliament resumes on Tuesday for the last scheduled sitting week of the year. 

The legislation, which gives the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and the ability to enforce restrictions, is set to replace the state of emergency which expires on December 15. 

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It was expected to pass parliament the previous sitting week with the support of three crossbench MPs, but former Labor minister Adem Somyurek announced he would return from a self-imposed absence to vote against it in its current form. 

His return means the government needs the support of one additional crossbencher to pass the legislation. 

The attorney-general delayed a vote on the bill and has since been negotiating with other crossbenchers, Transport Matters MP Rod Barton and Sustainable Australia's Clifford Hayes, in an effort to break the deadlock. 

The duo has called for greater parliamentary oversight and other checks on the proposed new powers.

Vale David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu.

Warning: This story contains images of an Indigenous Australian who has passed away.

Tributes are flowing for legendary Australian actor David Dalaithngu after confirmation of his death on Monday night.

The actor's family has requested he be referred to as David Dalaithngu, and given permission for his name and image to be used after his death, in accordance with his wishes.

Dalaithngu, who was 68, enjoyed an acting career spanning 50 years, appearing in iconic films such as Walkabout, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker and Rabbit-Proof Fence before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017.

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South Australian Premier Steven Marshall paid tribute to the actor in a statement late on Monday.

"David Dalaithngu was from the Mandjalpingu clan of the Yolngu people, and was raised in the traditional ways in Arnhem land. In his later years he was a resident of Murray Bridge. He was a brother, son, friend, father, grandfather and husband.

"An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen."

Dalaithngu was recognised in the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours List, awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Morrison govt to receive Kate Jenkins' report on parliament workplace culture today.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins will hand her report into parliamentary workplace culture to the Morrison government today.

Jenkins was tasked to look into problems with Canberra's culture and potential barriers preventing people from reporting workplace incidents, following rape allegations by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.

Ms Higgins alleged she was raped in a ministerial office at Parliament House in March 2019.

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The report did not investigate individual allegations of bullying.

An interim report handed down in July said the inquiry had heard from hundreds of people but only 16 current or former politicians. 

The vast majority of respondents were female. 

The report is expected to be made public this week following its presentation to Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.

The government has already come under fire for not passing all the legislative recommendations from Ms Jenkins previous Respect at Work report, which was handed to it in March 2020.

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. 

Ghislaine Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial begins.

The sex-trafficking trial of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is underway in New York.

The British socialite denies recruiting teenagers who were not yet adults for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004.

The full indictment against her lists six charges, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

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Maxwell is also accused of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, sex-trafficking conspiracy, and sex trafficking of a minor.

She denies all charges.

The trial is expected to last for six weeks.

If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact Bravehearts (an organisation providing support to victims of child abuse)  here.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from the Child Abuse Protection Hotline by calling 1800 688 009, or visiting this website. You can also call the 24-hour Child Abuse Report Line (131 478).

Around the world.

- Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is stepping down as CEO of the social media platform, the company has announced.

- Czech President Milos Zeman has begun a series of talks with 17 ministerial candidates of the incoming cabinet - from inside a transparent plastic box - because he has COVID-19.

- Reeva Steenkamp's parents are preparing to meet her murderer, the former Paralympics star Oscar Pistorius, as part of a process that could lead to his eventual release on parole

Feature image: Getty.

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