news

The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Tuesday November 2.

More than 4000 unvaccinated health workers suspended in QLD.

Queensland Health has suspended 4000 healthcare workers with full pay due to their refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Monday Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said there were 7,000 people who were yet to be fully vaccinated but 3,000 were on long service or maternity leave. 

While she is confident the 110,000 strong work force will cope with the loss, "there will be disruptions."

Queensland’s current guidelines require anyone working in the state’s healthcare system to have received their first dose by September 30 and a second dose by late October.

 77.8 per cent of the Queensland population has received one jab, with 64.1 per cent double vaccinated.

Scott Morrison rebuffs claim he lied to France about submarines.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted he will not accept "sledging of Australia" over a torn-up $90 billion submarine deal with France.

French President Emmanuel Macron at the weekend accused Mr Morrison of lying to him about ditching the submarine contract in favour of US and UK nuclear-propulsion technology.

Mr Macron told Australian journalists on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome "I don't think, I know" when asked if he thought the Australian prime minister lied to him.

"I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people," Mr Macron said.

"I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistently with this value."

ADVERTISEMENT

Mr Morrison did not agree with suggestions he lied to the French president.

"No," the prime minister told reporters in Rome when asked if Mr Macron's claim was true.

Speaking from Glasgow, where he is attending the COP26 climate talks, on Monday night, Mr Morrison said, "I must say that the statements that were made, questioning Australia's integrity and the slurs that have been placed on Australia ... I'm not going to cop sledging of Australia.

"I'm not going to cop that on behalf of other Australians."

Mr Morrison maintained Australia was in the process of repairing its relationship with France, saying "we've spoken several times over the last couple of days. I'm sure we'll speak a bit more before I head back to Australia".

"We have much to do and we're always keen and would welcome the involvement of our ongoing partnership with France," he said on Monday.

Australia in September announced it was cancelling its 2016 contract to acquire conventional Attack Class submarines from French company Naval Group. Instead, the government would look at the feasibility of acquiring technology for nuclear-powered vessels from the US and UK under an AUKUS pact.

The shock announcement was kept under tight wraps and infuriated France.

"Bet on scientists", PM tells climate summit as Australian inaction slammed. 

In scathing comments on Monday, the former UN climate chief and "architect of the Paris agreement" slammed Australia as "irresponsible," as our PM attends the COP26 climate summit with nothing more than a net zero 2050 commitment. 

"I struggle to find an adjective that is politically correct [for Australia]," Christiana Figueres told the ABC.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Honestly, I think what Australia continues to do is so irresponsible."

Scott Morrison has told the summit it will be scientists, not politicians, who come up with the solution to climate change.

They will be the people to come up with the real solutions to climate change, much like they did during the global pandemic, the prime minister said.

"The challenge of combating climate change will be met the same way, and it will be met by people who frankly are largely not in this room," he told the summit in Glasgow on Tuesday (AEST).

"It will be our scientists, our technologists, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our industrialists and our financiers that will actually chart the path to net zero and it is up to us as leaders of governments to back them in."

Driving the emergence of low emission technologies and encouraging their adoption was at the heart of Australia's plan to reach net zero by 2050, Mr Morrison said.

But he said it was important to do so in a way that does not deny people their livelihoods or the opportunity for a better quality of life - especially for those in developing nations.

Earlier, Mr Morrison announced an additional $500 million in climate financial aid to Australia's Pacific and South East Asian neighbours, bringing its total commitment to $2 billion over the next five years.

"I really wanna see my mum." Pressure mounts on states to reopen border.

Pressure is mounting on zero-COVID states to reopen their internal borders, as international travel recommences in Australia.

ADVERTISEMENT

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has lashed out at the harsh border stance of Western Australia's Premier Mark McGowan, coinciding with overseas arrivals landing in Australia without having to undergo quarantine.

"It is absurd that you can travel to Singapore but not to Perth," he said.

"We need to bring an end to that and make sure all borders are open at the first possible opportunity."

Mr McGowan has refused to budge on reopening WA to the rest of the country.

COVID travel restrictions have been eased in many jurisdictions as key vaccine targets are reached, with state and territory leaders setting out road maps for border measures to be relaxed.

It comes as the medical regulator cleared the way for more travellers from overseas to come to Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday approved the Indian-made Covaxin and the Chinese-made BBIBP-CorV vaccine.

As part of the reopening plan, only travellers immunised with a TGA-recognised vaccine will be able to come to Australia without having to quarantine.

Currently, international travel is limited to flights out of Sydney and Melbourne, but that will expand to other cities once vaccination rates increase.

COVID-safe crowds back for Melbourne Cup.

After running the race with empty stands in 2020, the Victorian Racing Commission is welcoming back punters for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The crowd at Flemington Racecourse may be smaller than usual, at a COVID-19-safe limit of 10,000 people, but the excitement in the air will be thick with hope and anticipation of a return to normality.  

VRC chairman Neil Wilson said he was thankful people would return to the track following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions after last year's carnival went ahead without crowds.

"We are grateful to have the opportunity to welcome over 35,000 people attending Cup week this year in a COVID-19 environment," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Melbourne and Victoria's regions reunited after coronavirus restrictions eased at 6pm on Friday, ahead of the state hitting its 80 per cent full vaccination target at the weekend.

The border between Melbourne and the regions has now come down, masks no longer need to be worn outdoors, and capacity limits increased for restaurants, pubs and cafes, and indoor entertainment venues, gyms and retail reopened to fully vaccinated patrons.

There were 1471 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and four deaths announced on Monday 

NSW cases drop as regions, borders open.

NSW recorded its lowest number of locally acquired cases in more than three months as restrictions on regional and international travel were lifted.

Qantas flight QF1 left Sydney on Monday night bound for London via Darwin carrying outbound vaccinated Australians.

Flights also arrived at Sydney International Airport from the US, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Hong Kong, Fiji and Dubai on the first day of quarantine-free travel for vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

Singaporean tourists will be allowed back to Australia as part of a travel bubble from November 21.

ADVERTISEMENT

Restrictions on travel from Greater Sydney to regional areas were also lifted on Monday, and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was among those heading to the regions.

He visited Dubbo's Western Plains Zoo to deliver a message to the state's residents thinking of planning their summer holidays.

"Don't go interstate - come out to regional NSW and enjoy the best the state has to offer," Mr Perrottet said.

The resumption of regional travel was delayed for two weeks due to concerns over lower vaccination rates compared to Greater Sydney.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said 82 per cent of regional NSW now being fully vaccinated was an "exceptional result".

On Monday, NSW recorded its lowest daily total of locally acquired cases since July, with 135 cases along with four deaths.

Berejiklian finishes her evidence at ICAC.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian says she plans to "get on with" her life after concluding her evidence to the state's corruption watchdog for nine hours over two days about her secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire. 

"Every decision I made, in terms of the public office I held, was in the best interests of the community and the public," Ms Berejiklian told reporters outside the Independent Commission Against Corruption. 

"Now I intend to get on with my life."  

The inquiry broadened beyond its primary probe into Mr Maguire's business and political dealings to examine whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust in the way she handled projects he was pursuing or engaged in conduct "liable to allow or encourage corruption" by him.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ms Berejiklian has denied any wrongdoing and was frequently exasperated during the examination in which she was more than once scolded by the commissioners for giving more context than the question required. 

The former premier was asked about a tapped phone call in July 2018 in which Mr Maguire told her he had been summonsed to appear as a witness at the ICAC.

Ms Berejiklian agreed it was in "black and white" in the transcript that Mr Maguire had made representations to property developers but she didn't know all the people he mentioned.

"Whether or not I listened or cared is another matter," Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.

"I did not assume any wrongdoing."

Vic MP Tim Smith to learn political fate.

Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith is set to learn his political fate after being caught drink-driving at more than twice the legal limit and crashing into a house. 

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says he will meet face-to-face with the state member for the blue-ribbon seat of Kew on Tuesday "to discuss his future with him".

Mr Smith crashed into a Hawthorn house on Saturday night following a dinner with friends, narrowly avoiding a child's bedroom. 

The 38-year-old returned a breath test reading of 0.131, prompting the immediate suspension of his licence for 12 months. He is also expected to be fined by police.  

ADVERTISEMENT

Mr Smith tendered his resignation from shadow cabinet to Mr Guy on Sunday, describing his decision to drive home as a "serious error of judgement".

Pressure is now mounting on him to quit politics altogether. Several Liberal MPs have told AAP Mr Smith's position is untenable. 

Djokovic won't commit to Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic remains in doubt for the Australian Open, saying he's awaiting a final announcement on travel and entry requirements before committing to another title defence at Melbourne Park.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said unvaccinated players would be free to contest the Open if they completed two weeks in quarantine.

But Victoria Premier Dan Andrews slammed that door shut, insisting - just like unvaccinated fans - that unjabbed players would not be allowed into Melbourne Park.

Djokovic, who tested positive to COVID-19 last year, has repeatedly declined to reveal his vaccination status.

Victoria has introduced a vaccination mandate for professional athletes as it battles a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Djokovic was non-committal when asked on Sunday in Paris about the likelihood of contesting the Open.

"Well, I'm going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia," the world No.1 and nine-time Open champion said, in his first press conference since his US Open final loss to Daniil Medvedev in September.

"Right now, we don't have any official announcement or statement. So until that's out, I won't be talking about this anymore, because I don't want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs."

ADVERTISEMENT

'Vax' chosen as word of the year.

Oxford Languages, data specialists and overseers of the Oxford English Dictionary, have declared 'vax' their word of the year for 2021.

In announcing the publication of its latest language report, titled VAX, A report into the language of vaccines, Oxford Languages said "the word vax, more than any other, has injected itself into the bloodstream of the English language in 2021".

"A relatively rare word in our corpus until this year, by September it was over 72 times more frequent than at the same time last year," the organisation said.

"It has generated numerous derivatives that we are now seeing in a wide range of informal contexts, from vax sites and vax cards to getting vaxxed and being fully vaxxed, no word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax."

Around the world.

- US President Joe Biden has made a public apology at COP26 for former president Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords. 

- Bikini-style uniforms will no longer be mandated for female beach handball players following protests by players and European lawmakers. 

- Singer Jon Bon Jovi has tested positive for COVID minutes before he was due on stage in Florida. 

- With AAP

Feature image: Bradley Kanaris/Ian Forsyth/Vince Caligiuri/Getty.

Love the joy of Christmas? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.