The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday December 6.

Cleo Smith abduction accused in WA court

Cleo Smith's alleged abductor is set to return to court after having spent more than a month in a maximum-security remand prison in Perth.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, is accused of taking four-year-old Cleo from her family's tent at the remote Blowholes campsite in Western Australia.

He will face a magistrate via video link from custody on Monday, charged with multiple offences including forcibly taking a child under 16.

Cleo was found alive and well in early November, 18 days after she went missing from the campsite.

She was rescued from a property just minutes from her family home in the nearby town of Carnarvon, almost 1000km north of Perth.

Police forced entry to the home and found Cleo alone in a room, physically unharmed and playing with toys.

Kelly was arrested on a nearby street around the same time. He is alleged to have acted alone and is yet to enter a plea to his charges.

Police say he has no connection to Cleo's family.

Expert optimistic even as Omicron spreads.

The head of a key medical regulator is quietly optimistic that Australia can deal with the growing spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

NSW recorded two more Omicron infections on Sunday, bringing the state's total to 15, and further cases are expected to be confirmed.

The ACT also confirmed a second case of the Omicron variant, a close contact of the previously reported individual.


"When a new variant comes we have to check everything," the head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration John Skerritt told reporters on Sunday.

"But we're quietly optimistic, but I think it is important to be cautious, and emphasise we'll know a lot more in the next seven to 14 to 21 days."

Professor Skerritt and Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Sunday that children aged five to 11 years will be able to get a vaccine next year.

Vaccine experts at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation are also expected to give their nod of approval soon after the group's final checks, which Mr Hunt said should see vaccines rolled out from January 10.

Prof Skerritt says the vaccine will be one-third the dose of the adult version but have the same vaccine molecule and will come in a different colour.


"We are confident in the safety of this," he said.

The US has been rolling out this vaccine for about three weeks, Canada has started its rollout, while European countries and Israel have also approved it.

Newspoll shows voters tip Labor to win election.

The latest Newspoll shows voters favour Labor to win the next federal election.

It also shows Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has enjoyed a lead in net approval over Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the first time since March last year.

The poll conducted for The Australian shows 47 per cent of voters believe Labor will form the next government following an election expected in March or May 2022.

Just 37 per cent expect the Coalition to be returned for a fourth term.

Labor leads the two-party preferred race over the Coalition, 53 to 47 per cent, on a primary vote of 38 per cent.


The Coalition primary vote fell a point to 36 per cent while the Greens also lost a point to finish the year on 10 per cent.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation improved a point to 3 per cent with other minor parties also gaining a point to 13 per cent.

Scott Morrison dropped a point as the preferred prime ­minister to 45 per cent and Opposition Leader Anthony ­Albanese lost two points to 34 per cent while 19 per cent were uncommitted.

QLD set for border update on Monday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is set to reveal when the state will open its borders on Monday with the double vaccination rate closing in on 80 per cent.

The state will scrap quarantine for vaccinated domestic arrivals when 80 per cent of eligible people are fully jabbed, initially expected to be December 17.

But Ms Palaszczuk has not ruled out opening up the state earlier, saying an update will be provided on Monday.

There is speculation Queensland will hit its 80 per cent target within a week.

"We'll have updated figures tomorrow (Monday) which will show when we're expected to hit that 80 per cent so we'll be very closely watching those numbers," Ms Palaszczuk said on Sunday.

Overall 87.3 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have received one jab and 78.45 per cent are fully vaccinated.


Queensland recorded no new community cases on Sunday.

NSW teachers to strike on Tuesday.

The NSW Teachers Federation will defy an order from the Industrial Relations Commission to strike for the first time in almost a decade on Tuesday.

Staff will walk off the job for 24-hours as part of a campaign against "the government’s failure to address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries which are contributing to growing shortages of teachers", the federation says.

Members from greater Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains will rally outside Parliament House in Sydney.

All other members will rally at designated regional centres across the state.

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the union had exhausted all options over an 18-month period to persuade the Government to redress the decline in salaries and working conditions.

"This is about the future of the teaching profession and the quality of education children receive. No student should miss out because of a lack of teachers, but this is what is going to increasingly happen across NSW if the Government fails to act," Gavrielatos said.

"Every year teachers have been asked to do more and every year their salary has fallen compared to other professions."

Last week, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ordered the federation not to strike, but teachers are doing so regardless.


The government has offered a two-and-a-half per cent pay increase in line with its longstanding cap on wages for public servants and has rejected the argument that the department's staff issues are related to pay.

The NSW Department of Education has warned parents there will be 'minimal supervision' available for students on Tuesday.

NSW bus, train drivers go on strike this week.

Further industrial action will impact NSW commuters, who are warned to plan their bus and train journeys ahead this week.

The strikes begin on Monday with inner west Sydney bus drivers off the job as part of an ongoing dispute over pay equality.

On Tuesday bus drivers in the south west of Sydney will go on strike too, before the two groups combine to go on strike for two hours during the Friday afternoon peak.

Also on Tuesday, Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members won't be driving foreign-made trains - which run three-quarters of the services on the network.

It's the latest in a series of industrial actions taken by train drivers in recent months.

The RTBU has been negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement for months, after the old one expired in May.

The union's NSW secretary Alex Claassens says negotiations have stalled and the drivers have been forced to go on strike again because their employers are "refusing to budge on issues that are hugely significant to both workers and commuters" such as safety and hygiene.


The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene standards while not relying on contractors to provide it.

Around the world.

- Western nations including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and the UK have expressed concern over reported killings and disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces after the Taliban took power. In a joint statement issued over the weekend, the 21 countries plus the European Union referred to reports of such abuses documented by Human Rights Watch and others.

"We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty," said the statement, issued by the German Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

- Tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs has killed at least 24 people in Sudan's western Darfur region, an aid group says. It is the latest bout of intercommunal violence to rock the conflict-stricken region.

- Several people have been injured after a military truck rammed into a crowd of protesters in Myanmar's commercial capital, Yangon.

Feature image: Getty.

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