The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday September 17.

'Police won't check Vic park-goers,' says Dan Andrews ahead of restrictions loosening this weekend.

Melburnians have been urged not to abuse new COVID-19 freedoms allowing up to five fully vaccinated adults to gather for a walk or picnic from this weekend.

To mark Victoria reaching its 70 per cent first dose vaccination target on Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced a suite of "modest" restriction changes for Melbourne from Saturday including small outdoor gatherings.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults will be able to meet up with one other person from a different household for a walk or picnic, while that figure grows to five from two households, plus dependents, for fully vaccinated adults.

The premier said police will not be going from park to park to check the vaccination status of those gathering for picnics, but he hoped Victorians would "do the right thing".

"There's a degree of good faith in this," Mr Andrews told reporters.

Other rule changes from 11.59pm on Friday include a doubling of the amount of time allowed outdoors to four hours, the expansion of the travel limit from five kilometres to 10, and the reopening of outdoor gym equipment and skate parks.

The government's full roadmap out of lockdown, outlining restrictions through to November, will be released on Sunday. 

NSW COVID inquiry to focus on west Sydney.

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into the state's Delta coronavirus outbreak will resume as more regional areas toggle in and out of lockdown.

The upper house public accountability committee is exploring the state government's handling of the current outbreak, and will hold a further hearing on Friday.

Committee chair David Shoebridge said the virtual hearing will focus on issues in Sydney's west, with local mayors, ethnic community leaders and government agency representatives scheduled to speak.


"The committee will be taking evidence from those who have borne the brunt of the government's lockdown of certain Sydney LGAs, with a particular focus too on the management of the justice system during this extremely difficult time," the NSW Greens MP said.

Meanwhile, Lismore and Albury have re-entered lockdown for at least the next seven days, after three cases were detected across the two areas.

The sources of the infections in both regions are unknown, but Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale suspects they are linked to Sydney.

The cross-border community of Wodonga has not joined Albury in lockdown, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged there could be some "knock-on effects".

Just hours before Lismore and Albury were plunged back into lockdown, stay-at-home orders were repealed across 12 other regions.

NSW reported 1351 new local cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, taking the toll for the three-month virus outbreak to 210.

Twelve people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 across three social housing buildings in inner Sydney Redfern.

Canberra to enter sixth week of lockdown.

The ACT is set to enter its sixth week in lockdown as the territory government walks back from a COVID-zero strategy.

While some nearby local government areas in NSW will spend their first day out of lockdown on Friday, Canberra is set to spend another four weeks under stay-at-home restrictions.


Bega Valley and Snowy Mountains local government areas were among the 12 regions in NSW that had their lockdowns lifted after zero new COVID-19 cases were recorded there.

However, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro urged residents in those areas to remain vigilant.

The ACT's lockdown was initially slated to end on Friday, but Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced a four-week extension earlier this week.

The ACT is days away from reaching the vaccine milestone of having 80 per cent of its residents over 16 having received their first dose.

Reprieve for Bilo family amid legal battle.

A Tamil family has been granted a small reprieve in their fight to remain in Australia with the granting of another bridging visa enabling them to stay in the country until just before Christmas.

Lawyers for the Murugappan family headed to the Federal Circuit Court on Thursday, to challenge a decision to prevent parents Nades and Priya, and daughter Kopik from re-applying for bridging visas.

With their current bridging visas set to expire on Wednesday, the court heard Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had agreed to provide new three-month bridging visas.

These will expire on December 23.

If the current legal action fails and the family do not obtain further visas, the Muruguppan family could be sent back to immigration detention or community detention, or removed from Australia.

The family hopes to return to their home in the small country town of Biloela in Queensland.


They have been living in Perth after being released from years of detention - the last stint on Christmas Island - after Tharnicaa was medically evacuated from the island this year with a blood infection that left her gravely ill.

Shayna Jack cleared for return to swimming.

Drug-tainted swimmer Shayna Jack is free to return to the pool after an appeal seeking to increase her doping ban was dismissed.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that Jack's two-year doping ban, which she has served, will stand.

Jack was initially banned for four years after testing positive to Ligandrol on June 26, 2019, almost three weeks before the world swim titles in South Korea.

The Queenslander appealed her ban to CAS which reduced her suspension to two years, finding Jack did not knowingly ingest the substance.

But Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) appealed that reduction, citing a need for clarity regarding anti-doping legal principles.

CAS on Thursday rejected the SIA appeal, meaning Jack can return to the sport.

"After a two year and three month battle, I have finally received my final decision that my appeal case has been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration," Jack posted on Instagram.


"I am now free to do what I love with no restrictions and am so overwhelmed with joy.

"I am now going to take some time to myself to cherish this moment and reflect on what I have endured. The nightmare is finally over.

"Thank you to everyone who has stood by me, supported me and help me overcome this challenge.

"I will speak more in the future, now is not the time ... but watch this space, it's only the beginning."

Subs deal spells mixed fortunes for SA, WA.

Naval shipbuilding work confirmed for Adelaide will provide defence industry jobs in South Australia "today, tomorrow and for decades to come", Premier Steven Marshall says.

Mr Marshall said a decision to build nuclear-powered submarines and to continue to maintain and upgrade the current Collins Class fleet in SA had cemented Adelaide as the nation's shipbuilding capital.

But West Australian counterpart Mark McGowan blasted the Morrison government for overlooking his state, warning the move would not be forgotten by voters.

The federal government has announced the decision to dump a $90 billion deal with the French-based Naval Group to build 12 conventionally powered submarines, and will instead build nuclear-powered subs as part of a landmark security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom.

Mr Morrison said the commonwealth would invest $6.4 billion to maintain and extend the life of the Collins Class fleet. Known as full-cycle docking, the deal will support about 1300 jobs in SA.


The federal government would also invest up to $5.1 billion in upgrades to the Hobart Class destroyer combat management systems, creating a further 300 jobs in Adelaide.

WA had lobbied strongly for the full-cycle docking maintenance work to be shifted to its Henderson shipyard near Garden Island, where the existing Collins Class submarines are based.

The state's Labor premier said the decision by the Liberal-National government was "not in the national interest".

"The six submarines are based here. The crews are based here and live here. The industry is here," Mr McGowan told parliament.

"The shipbuilding and repair industries are stronger here and they are internationally competitive. The industrial capability, the workforce capability, is immeasurably stronger in Western Australia than in South Australia.

"West Australians should not forget this decision today by the Liberals and Nationals that have let our great state down."

China says submarine deal has 'Cold War mentality' as France vents fury.

China's Washington embassy reacted to a new security pact announced by the US, the UK and Australia by saying that countries should "shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice".

The US, Britain and Australia said on Wednesday they would establish a security partnership for the Indo-Pacific that will involve helping Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, as Chinese influence over the region grows.

Asked to comment, Chinese embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said countries "should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties. In particular, they should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice."


Meanwhile, the new UK/US deal means Australia's $90 billion submarine contract with France has been abandoned. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was "angry", saying the move was something that was "just not done between allies" and comparing the "unilateral, brutal, unpredictable" decision to former US president Donald Trump's decision making.

"It was really a stab in the back," he said on France-Info radio.

"We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed.

"This is not the end of the story."

Qld to begin work on assisted dying scheme.

Queensland will begin a series of "complex clinical and administrative arrangements" to prepare a voluntary assisted dying scheme after a historic vote in the state parliament.

The passage of the bill was met by applause in the public gallery late on Thursday after a marathon debate taking much of the parliamentary week.

Preparing for the scheme's implementation will take place over the next 15 months, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.


"This includes establishing the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, a Statewide Care Navigator Service, Statewide Pharmacy Service, support systems for access by regional and remote communities and developing training, supporting guidelines and processes," she said.

The laws allow people suffering a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and terminal to access voluntary-assisted dying (VAD).

Their condition must be expected to cause death within a year, they must have decision-making capacity, and proceed without coercion.

Police release bodycam footage in Gabby Petito missing person case.

US Police bodycam footage has been released of officers speaking to Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in Utah after they responded to a 911 call of a domestic incident a month before she was reported missing.

The New York Post reports the couple were pulled over on August 12, with the footage showing Petito crying to the officer as she told him she was stressed out, struggling with her mental health, and trying to launch a website on the road.

“Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just some days, I have really bad OCD, and I was just cleaning and straightening up and I was apologising to him saying that I’m so mean because sometimes I have OCD and get frustrated,” she said. “We’ve been fighting all morning. He wouldn’t let me in the car before … he told me I needed to calm down.” 


The officer determined Petito was the primary aggressor and advised Laundrie to take pictures of his injuries for evidence.

“I’m not going to pursue anything [criminal charges] because she is my fiance and I love her. It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public,” Laundrie said.

Petito has been missing the last week of August, with Laundrie returning to his parents' house in Florida without he. He is now refusing to cooperate with police. She was reported missing by her family on September 11. 

Read: The full backstory here.

Around the world.

- Italy will be the first country in Europe to impose an obligation on private and public sector employees to show evidence of a coronavirus vaccination or negative test results. 

- The UK High Court has ruled that the Duke of Edinburgh's will is to remain secret to protect the "dignity" of the Queen.

- With AAP

Feature image: Brendon Thorne/Getty/Twitter/New York Post/Delly Carr/Getty.

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