The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday September 7.

Scott Morrison granted Father's Day exemption.

The Prime Minister's office has confirmed Scott Morrison secured a travel exemption to return to Sydney for Father's Day over the weekend despite prohibitions that require those visiting NSW to isolate on their return to the ACT for 14 days.

Scott Morrison took a taxpayer-funded VIP flight on Friday afternoon, returning Monday morning.

In Father's Day social media posts on Sunday, the Prime Minister did not refer to his trip to Sydney to spend time with his family.

On an Instagram post featuring a photograph of Morrison holding a white dove with his two daughters and wife Jenny, the Prime Minister said that the image had been taken months earlier.

"Being a Dad is a special gift that we are given in life," he wrote. "On the day this photo was taken of our family together earlier this year I was reminded of just how precious this gift is."

He hadn't seen his family in seven weeks.

Similar exemptions have previously been granted to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to travel from Victoria to Canberra to prepare the budget and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to enter the ACT despite a lockdown order in Armidale.


Morrison has previously faced criticism for a secret family trip to Hawaii during the 2019 bushfire disaster. He admitted later that he shouldn't have kept it a secret and would "learn from these things."

Australia braces for coronavirus wave peak.

There are fears the peak of Australia's third coronavirus wave has not been reached despite more than 26,000 active cases across the nation.

Infections in NSW continue to surge with health authorities predicting daily cases will hit a high next week after another 1281 on Monday.

Victoria reached another outbreak-high daily increase of 246 new local cases as Melbourne battles an outbreak.

The federal health department estimates active cases have now surpassed 26,000, with the rapid rise of the Delta variant continuing alongside lockdowns.

Concerns southeast Queensland could be locked down are subsiding after there were no new cases of local transmission in Brisbane.

Canberra, which recorded another 11 cases, continues to lead the nation on vaccination rates with 50 per cent double-dose coverage expected this week.

Nationally, almost 36.43 per cent of population aged 16 and above have been fully vaccinated while 63.16 per cent are covered with a single dose.


Vaccine rollout co-ordinator John Frewen is confident supply issues that dogged the program have been conquered after the first shipment of Pfizer doses from a UK swap deal arrived.

"We've got the supply. We've got the distribution networks now," he said.

Tasmania is the latest state government to signal it may retain hard borders with jurisdictions experiencing coronavirus outbreaks even when high immunisation rates are achieved.

WA and Queensland have drawn the ire of the federal government for cautious approaches to the national reopening plan which has vaccine targets of 70 and 80 per cent.

Modelling underpinning the agreement doesn't mention state borders, an increasingly controversial subject as jab rates increase.

Pressure on NSW ICUs looms as cases rise.

NSW is a month and a half away from the most significant pressure ever placed on its intensive care systems, expert modelling released by the state government reveals.

But even at the pandemic's worst phase for the hospital system, in late October and the first half of November, authorities do not expect ICU occupancy to reach anywhere close to the surge capacity of 1550 patients.

"You may be moved to a different hospital than the one closest to your home. You may have slightly different surroundings to what you would normally," warned Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday.

"But the bottom line is anyone who needs that care will receive it."

The six-slide document released by the NSW government on Monday includes three pages of modelling and a plan for surging ICU capacity. It is based on data from August 23. 


The modelling suggests that case numbers will continue to increase until mid-September in council hotspots, reaching up to 2000 cases per day.

But immunity from vaccines will begin to bite in the next two weeks, finally bringing the curve down.

The flow-on effect of those case numbers on hospitals and ICUs will follow, with up to 3900 patients expected to need hospital admission. 

The estimated peak ICU population is 947, of whom 560 would be COVID-19 patients and 387 have other ailments. 

By November, hospitalisation numbers will start to fall, a side effect of increased vaccination coverage. 

The modelling document shows that ICUs in South Western Sydney, Western Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains and Northern Sydney Local Health Districts are already approaching their capacity. 

Intensive care doctor Nhi Nguyen, who helped devise the state's pandemic ICU strategy, said her colleagues were worried.


The coming months will be "difficult and exhausting" for health care workers, as the project numbers look "challenging and frightening", she said. 

"We know that without vaccinations, and without the public health orders, the numbers would be much worse," she said.  

Police probe into how boy lost in NSW bush.

Police are trying to work out how a three-year-old boy ended up half a kilometre from his rural NSW home after spending three days lost in rugged bushland. 

Anthony "AJ" Elfalak was reunited with his overjoyed family on Monday after being spotted by a rescue helicopter following a three-day search.

Hunter Region Commander Simon Merrick said an SES volunteer walked up to AJ and put his hand on his shoulder.

"(AJ) turned to him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget," Mr Merrick said.

"It was an emotional moment."

AJ, who has autism and is non-verbal, went missing from his family's property at Putty about 11.45am on Friday.

He was found sitting in a puddle drinking water from a creek after surviving three nights alone in the bush in temperatures which dipped as low as three degrees.


Special Operations Team Paramedic Gerry Pyke said AJ's condition was "remarkable".

"He is a little survivor," Mr Pyke said.

"He had some lacerations on his lower legs... he did have a bit of nappy rash but he hadn't had a nappy change for a few days so we can't hold that against him."

The Elfalak family issued a statement late on Monday afternoon asking for space and expressing gratitude for everyone who assisted in the search for AJ.

"AJ is fine," the statement read. "Hold your kids close. Please give our family the privacy to appreciate what we have."

NSW Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman said investigations were ongoing into how AJ made his way so far from home.

"From a policing perspective we will still be continuing our inquiry to understand what has occurred over the past three days," she said.

"I know everyone has lots of questions."

Government hits back over coal phase-out.

The federal government has hit back at a senior United Nations official's call for Australia to accept coal's days are numbered.

Selwin Hart, the UN's assistant secretary-general and special adviser on climate action, told the ANU's Crawford Leadership Forum the phasing out of coal is a prerequisite of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

"If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy: from agriculture to tourism, and right across the services sector," he said.


But he said coal workers and their communities were entitled to a "just transition" to new jobs.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said coal would remain a significant contributor to the Australian economy well beyond 2030.

"The future of this crucial industry will be decided by the Australian government, not a foreign body that wants to shut it down costing thousands of jobs and billions of export dollars for our economy," Mr Pitt said on Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said it is the government's "preference" to get to net zero by mid-century, but has not formally committed to it.

Woman found dead in Brisbane home.

A woman has been found dead at a home in the Brisbane suburb of Upper Mount Gravatt, with a man known to her being questioned by police.

Police say that just before 8pm on Monday officers and paramedics went to the home on reports of a critically injured woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.


A crime scene has been established and a man known to the woman is assisting police with their inquiries.

Frustration over sexual harassment reforms.

The woman behind new laws to tackle sexual harassment has expressed frustration at the federal government's "missed opportunity" to put the onus of prevention on employers.

The government backed some of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins' recommendations regarding legislation changes. But the coalition voted down amendments by Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers, including to make preventing sexual harassment an employer responsibility.

Ms Jenkins has expressed frustration at the failure to write into the Sex Discrimination Act a positive duty for employers to be proactive in preventing sexual harassment.

"The one that is a missed opportunity and is central is the positive duty in the Sex Discrimination Act," she told a national summit on women's safety on Monday.

"I would just say it's not off the agenda even though it's frustrating."

The Morrison government in April signalled its intention to focus on those of the 55 proposals it accepted outright.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech to the summit to detail some of the hundreds of letters and emails he'd received from sexual violence survivors. 

"Through all the letters and emails, I felt that rage, the dread and the frustration that our culture is not changing," Mr Morrison said. 

But survivors criticised what they saw as hypocrisy from prime minister and his government.

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins tweeted she "can't match this government's actions with the platitudes and warm sentiments they are all extending today".


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.

Taliban take Panjshir province.

The Taliban say they have seized the last province not in their control after their blitz through Afghanistan last month, overrunning forces who had opposed their takeover.

Thousands of Taliban fighters charged into eight districts of Panjshir province overnight, according to witnesses from the area who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the province, which is north of the capital Kabul, was now held by their fighters.

"We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight," Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul on Monday.


The resisting forces were led by former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh and also the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Nestled in the towering Hindu Kush mountains, the Panjshir Valley has a single narrow entrance.

Experts had doubted that the hold-out efforts could succeed long-term against the Taliban, whose rapid advance through Afghanistan met little resistance in the final days of the US 20-year war in the country.

MH17 victims' families to speak in court.

Relatives of the 298 victims of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 have accused Russia of lying about its alleged role in the downing of the plane as they began testifying in the Dutch murder trial of four suspects.

International investigators concluded that the passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine with a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. Moscow denies all responsibility.

"They are lying, we know they are lying and they know that we know that they are lying," Ria van der Steen, who lost her father and stepmother on the flight, told the court on Monday, saying she was citing the late Soviet dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.


Of the 298 who died, 38 were from Australia.

Australian Vanessa Rizk also pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government as part of the "political nightmare" that led to the crash.

"I still cannot fathom that our family is caught up in a frustrating and deadly political crisis," Rizk, who lost both her parents in the crash when she was 22, told the judges via videolink.

She stressed her parents had no role in any of the politics that led to their deaths.

Russia, which maintains that it has not funded or supported rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops, has refused to extradite the suspects.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian citizen, all suspected of having key roles in the separatist forces, are on trial for murder.

After years of collecting evidence, a team of international investigators concluded in May 2018 that the launcher used to fire the missile belonged to Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

Hugh Jackman pays tribute to his father.

Hugh Jackman has paid tribute to his "extraordinary" father after his death.

The Greatest Showman star, 52, revealed his father Christopher died on Sunday, which was Father's Day in Australia.

He wrote on Twitter: "In the early hours of Father's Day (AU), my Dad peacefully passed away.

"And whilst there is deep sadness, I'm filled with such gratitude and love. My dad was, in a word, extraordinary. He devoted his life to his family, his work and his faith. I pray he's now at peace with God."


Jackman's parents moved to Australia from England as part of the Ten Pound Poms migration scheme in the 1960s.

He has previously revealed his mother left Australia and returned to England when he was a child, leaving his father to raise five children alone.

Around the world.

- There are reports the Taliban murdered a pregnant policewoman in front of her family on Saturday night in the central Afghanistan province of Ghor, as fears about the repression of women under the Taliban's rule come true.

- Jacinda Ardern's government is ending New Zealand's lockdown outside Auckland after seeing a dip in COVID-19 cases. The centre of the outbreak will remain in a level four lockdown for at least another week.

- With AAP

Feature image: Instagram @scottmorrisonmp/NSW Police/Bilal Guler/Anadolu Agency/Getty.

Want a cheeky $50? Tell us what you think