The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday April 9.

This post deals with sexual assault and child sexual abuse and might be triggering for some readers.

Australia's COVID-19 vaccine timeline in doubt.

Australians may not receive their first COVID-19 jab by the end of October as initially planned, with the federal government advising those under 50 not to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

European authorities have identified a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, prompting Australia's drug regulators to hold urgent meetings to consider their findings.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison received recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Thursday night and moved to make Pfizer the vaccine of choice for people under 50.

The recommendations were made out of an "abundance of caution", he said, with the rare yet serious side effects more commonly found in younger people.

Image: ABC.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said the adverse reaction appeared in four to six cases per million vaccine doses and had a 25 per cent death rate.

ATAGI also recommended those under the age of 50 who have received their first AstraZeneca jab proceed with their second, as the medical advice indicates the rare blood clots only develop after the first dose.

Only where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk should an initial AstraZeneca dose be administered to someone under the age of 50.

"Ultimately here, the choice is with individual Australians and their doctor," Mr Morrison said.


"This is not a directive. This is not an instruction."

Health care workers under 50 who were due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine, which will likely delay phase 1b of the rollout.

The federal government had planned for every Australian to be offered at least their first dose of the vaccine by the end of October, with most receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

But the prime minister now concedes that timeline is in doubt.

"We expect that this will require some changes to the arrangements we have as part of the vaccination rollout," Mr Morrison said.

"This includes when we might expect first doses ultimately to be able to be offered to all Australians." 

The use of the Pfizer vaccine will be ramped up to accommodate for the change, with some 20 million doses due in Australia by the end of the year.

The government also hopes deliveries of the 51 million doses of the Novovax jab Australia ordered will begin from October, despite the vaccine remaining in the clinical trial phase.

Read more: What was announced at Scott Morrison’s surprise press conference on the vaccine rollout.

Porter accuser tried to deliver a statement to police via Skype during COVID lockdowns.

The woman who accused federal MP Christian Porter of raping her in 1988 asked NSW Police if she could deliver her witness statement via Skype during the COVID-19 pandemic, but police resisted.


Detectives investigating her complaint were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman's formal statement in March 2020, but their trip was disrupted by coronavirus restrictions.

NSW Police confirmed to that she had asked to provide a formal statement over Skype, but they have not expressed exactly why the statement was not taken remotely.

"Investigators consulted with the (alleged) victim on April 2, 2020 by way of teleconference. Options were presented to the (alleged) victim in relation to obtaining her statement. A joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely. There were a number of reasons which led to this decision. The (alleged) victim was understanding and supportive of this decision," NSW Police said.

NSW Police say it was the woman’s decision to withdraw the complaint in June that resulted in police not interviewing Mr Porter after her death, reported.

"It is current standard practice that once a signed victim statement has been obtained from a victim and further corroborative enquiries are made, the formal allegation can and should be put to the person of interest as per procedural fairness principles for investigators," NSW Police said.

"On June 23, 2020, the (alleged) victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report. The NSWPF did not have a signed statement from the (alleged) victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest. In keeping with the (alleged) victim’s wishes no further investigation took place and the person of interest was not interviewed."

None of her friends or family were interviewed about her claims after her June death.


Porter strenuously denies the allegations.

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.

Marise Payne fires back after bizarre Chinese press conference.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has spoken after a strange press conference by the Chinese embassy on Wednesday, to say there are "credible reports of the systematic abuse and torture" of Uyghur women in China's Xinjiang province.

On Wednesday, Australian journalists were invited to a press conference where they were shown Chinese government propaganda videos denying the abuse of the Muslim minority Uyghur population.


Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye expressed anger at what he called "distorted coverage" of the province and slammed Canberra's criticism of Chinese human rights abuses.

It is estimated a million Uyghurs had been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang, and Payne said Canberra would continue to be "very clear" about its "deeply held concerns".

Uyghurs in Australia are calling for a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to help them make contact with missing family members in Xinjiang.

"So many of us living in Australia have lost contact with our loved ones and have no idea where they are," Bahtiyar Bora from the Australian Uighur Association said.

"We are asking Mr Cheng to sit down with us to hear our stories and answer our questions."

PM urged to do more on sex harassment laws.

The Morrison government has promised changes to make Australian workplaces safer but critics say its plan does not go far enough to combat sexual harassment.

The government has released its response to the Respect at Work report, promising to make politicians and judges subject to the same laws as the Australian public.

Sexual harassment will be a valid reason for dismissal and included in the definition of serious workplace misconduct.

Victims will also have two years to bring complaints forward rather than six months.

But the government did not commit to implementing all 55 recommendations.

One recommendation is to change sex discrimination laws to force all employers to proactively take measures to eliminate the behaviour.

However, the government is only promising to assess whether that change would create complexity, noting similar provisions in work health and safety legislation.

There was also a call for the Human Rights Commission to have broad powers to investigate systemic harassment.

While releasing Thursday's response, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said sexual harassment was unacceptable.

Labor is challenging him to dump Queensland MP Andrew Laming to show he takes those words seriously.

Dr Laming is on paid leave to undertake empathy training after being accused of harassing two female constituents and taking a photo of a woman while she was bending over.


He is quitting at the next election but Mr Morrison has resisted calls to dump him from the coalition party room with the government holding a wafer-thin majority in the lower house

Labor is also calling on the government to introduce 10 days of paid domestic violence leave.

Read more: Scott Morrison has responded to the 'Respect at Work' report recommendations. Here are 4 things to know.

Leifer due to return to Melbourne court.

Malka Leifer is due back in a Melbourne court accused of sexually abusing three sisters while principal of an ultra-Orthodox school.

The former Adass Israel School principal faces 47 indecent assault charges and 13 of committing an indecent act with a child.

The 54-year-old is also accused of 11 counts of rape and three of sexually penetrating a child. All charges stem from between January 2004 and March 2008.

She is due to return to Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Friday for a committal mention.

The abuse is alleged to have occurred in the Melbourne suburbs of Elsternwick - where the Adass school is based - as well as Elwood, Emerald and Frankston. 

Court documents also alleged the abuse occurred at Rawson in west Gippsland and Blampied in the Central Highlands.

Leifer was extradited from Israel in January following a years-long court battle and after she was found to be feigning mental illness.

She left Melbourne in 2008, was charged by Australian authorities in 2012 and first arrested in Israel in 2014.

Her accusers - sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper - were last year granted a court order allowing them to keep speaking publicly about their case and under their real names.

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 their website. You can also call the 24-hour Child Abuse Report Line (131 478).

Partner visa English test 'paternalistic'. 

Requiring immigrants who apply for a partner visa to pass an English test would be a "paternalistic" measure that will tear families apart, refugee and women's advocates say.

The Department of Home Affairs is considering adding a language requirement for partner visa applications. Under the proposal, both the person applying for the visa and the person sponsoring the visa would have to pass the English test. 


A consultation paper issued by the department says the measure would protect potential victims of violence by encouraging them to learn English.

"Migrants who do not have sufficient English language skills may be more vulnerable to family violence and other exploitation," the paper states. 

"They are less likely to have an established support network or be aware of Australia's laws and how to seek help." 

English speakers are better able to independently seek help in emergency situations such as family violence at home, it says. 

But the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) and the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) have slammed the proposal as paternalistic.

"This language creates a false association between domestic and family violence and non-English speakers," said RACS lawyer Hannah Gray, who co-ordinates the centre's Women at Risk program. 

It also "makes the unsupported claim that the way to combat such violence is by making it more difficult for non-English speaking partners to obtain visas and be reunited with their families," she added.

Ms Gray said family violence occurs across all cultures and language groups, and it was "highly reductive" to suggest the problem was exacerbated by survivors' English skills.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said the government was committed to providing support to victims of family violence regardless of their language skills.

They said public consultations would inform the settings and implementation of the policy. 

The organisations have penned a joint submission to the department expressing their strong opposition to the idea. 

Cops called to Harry and Meghan's California home nine times.

US police have been called to the California mansion of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex nine times in as many months, official figures indicate.

Since Harry and Meghan moved in to their Montecito home with one-year-old son Archie in July last year, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has responded to calls listed as phone requests, alarm activations and property crimes.

The data, obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the PA news agency, was released after the couple shared their security fears in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.


Officers were called four times in July last year after Harry and Meghan moved to Montecito from Los Angeles, where they had been temporarily living since leaving Canada at the start of the pandemic.

One call is listed as a phone request while the others are labelled "alarm activations" and all occurred in the early hours of the morning.

An August request is listed as a "(Miscellaneous) Priority (Incident)," while there was a further alarm in November.

At 4.13pm on Christmas Eve, sheriff's deputies were called to the property after a man was alleged to have trespassed.

Officers returned to the mansion on Boxing Day at 2.54pm for a call listed under "Property Crimes".

The most recent call was at 2.21am on February 16 this year and is listed as an alarm activation.

Representatives for Harry and Meghan declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office declined to provide further details about the calls.

Around the world.

- New Zealand halted flights from India for at least two weeks after a major influx in positive COVID-19 cases detected in its managed isolation facilities originated in the country.

- Lance Armstrong’s son Luke has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl after a party near his home in Austin, Texas.

- A woman in Japan has become the world's first COVID-19 patient to receive a living donor lung transplant.

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty/AAP.