travel

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed all borders will be open by Christmas, with one exception.

PM confirms all borders will be open by Christmas - with one exception.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today confirmed that state borders will be open by Christmas, with one exception. 

After a national cabinet meeting with state premiers on Friday, Morrison said, "That is a plan to have Australian open … with the exception of Western Australia".

"The plan importantly embeds public health metrics in ensuring that when Australia opens safely that it remains open safely, and that is incredibly important."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed that her state was on track to relax travel bans.

"Of course, there is a national aspiration, of course, to have the borders open before Christmas," she said.

"In relation to Victoria, we’re very encouraged with what’s happening down there. And we will be looking very closely at the end of the month at Victoria, and also New South Wales. There may be some hot spots. Dr Young will assess this at the end of the month. But we are very encouraged with what we are seeing in Victoria at this stage."

South Australia will lift all its border restrictions with Victoria on December 1, with no requirement for travellers to quarantine in hotels or at home.

Premier Steven Marshall says the change will bring Victoria in line with SA's rules for all other states, but is dependent on no major new outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the next two weeks.

"This (hard border closure) has been in place for an extended period of time and it's been important to keep our state safe," Mr Marshall said on Friday.

"It has been our first line of defence."

Queensland restrictions ease.

Queensland sporting venues will be allowed to reach maximum capacity in time for next week's State of Origin decider in Brisbane as part of a series of COVID-19 restrictions to be eased from 4pm next Tuesday.

Capacity in pubs, restaurants and places of worship will also increase as the one person per four square metre rule relaxes to one person per two square metres inside venues, while gatherings in homes and public spaces will increase from 40 to 50.

Ticketed seated venues for live music and theatre will also increase from 50 to 100 per cent capacity, and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young urged people attending to wear a mask on entry and exit of sellout events.

Performers can reduce the distance from the audience from 4m to 2m, except choirs which remain at 4m.

The cap for weddings and funerals will increase to 200, and outdoor events with a COVID safe checklist will rise from 1000 to 1500 people.

Larger events require a COVID safe plan.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dancing is also back on the cards for weddings and music festivals.

In making the announcement on Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said increasing capacity in venues such as pubs and clubs would be a boost for hospitality jobs.

"This is the result of the hard work of Queenslanders," she said.

Scott Morrison warns incoming report on Australia's alleged war crimes "very disturbing."

A special investigator will be appointed to consider the criminal cases against Australian special forces in Afghanistan, and an independent panel will oversee "serious cultural" issues in the country's defence force.

The announcements by Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of a report to be released next week suggest damning conclusions, with Morrison warning the findings are "difficult" and "very disturbing." 

Sources say the Brereton report is not expected to name soldiers, alleged victims and witnesses or the fine detail of incidents.

The Brereton inquiry examined 55 separate issues and 338 witnesses, mainly over alleged unlawful killings and cruel treatment.

In March, the ABC aired footage from a helmet camera showing an Australian soldier shooting dead an apparently unarmed Afghan man in a field in May 2012.

A former SAS soldier has also told the broadcaster he saw three incidents of alleged murder.

There have been a range of similar allegations levelled at special forces.

Australia Defence Association director Neil James said some of the investigations could take a decade, but the nation needed to face up to the issues and fix them.

ADVERTISEMENT

Serial killer Reginald Arthurell released from prison.

After more than 26 years in prison, triple-killer Reginald Arthurell walked free from Sydney's Long Bay jail on Thursday after the NSW Parole Authority concluded it was the "only viable option."

The maximum sentence for the murder the 75-year-old was convicted for is expiring in seven months, and if released then he would be completely unsupervised. By releasing him on parole, the authority can exercise strict supervision. 

In 1997, Arthurell bludgeoned his fiancee Venet Mulhall to death. Her brother found her decomposing body in the house the couple shared.

He'd previously spent four and a half years in prison for the 1974 stabbing of his stepfather Tom Thornton. He was also jailed for six years for the bashing death of 19-year-old sailor Ross Browning. 

"He was born a psychopath and he'll be a psychopath all his life," Mr Mulhall's brother told A Current Affair.

'Elders' group urge Trump to accept defeat.

A group of prominent former world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela say US President Donald Trump's assertions of election fraud without compelling evidence conveys "a lack of respect" for the integrity of US institutions.

The group - known as "The Elders" - said on Thursday in a statement that Trump "should follow the example set by his predecessors and declare himself willing to accept the verdict cast" by voters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Former Irish president Mary Robinson chairs The Elders and says it was "shocking to have to raise concerns about US democratic processes" as the group has done in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

The group called on Republican leaders "to act responsibly in the interests of their country by supporting a smooth transition" to Democrat Joe Biden's presidency.

Major US media networks called the presidential election for Biden last Saturday.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened to intervene if the Trump administration has not allowed President-elect Joe Biden access to presidential daily intelligence briefings by the end of the week, with Trump under increasing criticism for blocking Biden's transition to power. 

Longer, more extreme fire season predicted.

Australians are being warned to get used to the conditions experienced during the hottest year on record as an increase in temperature drives longer and more dangerous fire seasons.

ADVERTISEMENT

The State of the Climate report, released today by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, shows a warming temperature has increased the frequency of 'extreme weather events' such as heatwaves and fire weather.

Australia's climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees since 1910.

Research Director at CSIRO's Climate Science Centre, Dr Jaci Brown, said while 2019 was the hottest year on record, it wouldn't be unusual in coming decades.

"In fact, we think of this decade being hot, but this decade will be one of the coolest in the next hundred years," she said.

BOM Climate Environmental Prediction Services manager, Dr Karl Braganza, said longer fire seasons with more days of extreme risk meant less opportunity to reduce fuel loads during cooler months.

Health boss quits amid Vic hotel fallout.

The fallout from Victoria's botched hotel quarantine program continues to play out, with the resignation of the state's health secretary.

Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake became the third key witness at Victoria's hotel quarantine inquiry to quit, following Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and top state government bureaucrat Chris Eccles out the door.

When questioned at the inquiry, Ms Peake refused to accept deficiencies in the hotel quarantine program stemmed from failures in her department, but expressed "profound regret" over its inability to prevent the state's devastating second wave of COVID-19.

ADVERTISEMENT

Her decision to quit comes ahead of the inquiry, headed by former judge Jennifer Coate, handing down its final report by December 21.

The Victorian government announced her resignation on Thursday afternoon, saying she had stepped down to pursue "other opportunities".

Premier Daniel Andrews meanwhile, has expressed doubt the state will fast-forward its timetable for more easing of restrictions, warning 14 coronavirus clear days is no coronavirus vaccine.

Victoria has not had such a streak without new cases or deaths since February and the state's rolling case average is, as of Friday, now zero.


ADVERTISEMENT

Girl tells court swim teacher "put his hand by my costume where it protects my private parts."

Every Thursday afternoon after school a young girl was abused by her swimming teacher but was "too shy" to say anything, a Sydney jury has heard.

Kyle Daniels, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges, including multiple counts of having sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and indecently assaulting a person under 16.

He is accused of touching nine of his students aged between five and 10 on or near their genitals while instructing them between February 2018 and February 2019 at a pool on Sydney's north shore.

Daniels has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges. Image: AAP/Joel Carrett.

On Thursday the District Court heard one of his alleged victims tell a pre-recorded police interview she was "too shy to tell him to stop and I was too shy to tell my mother and father. I just didn't want to talk about it."

"Well he would always put his hand by my costume where it protects my private parts," she told the interviewer. 

The girl said whenever she made a mistake with her freestyle stroke "Kylie", who was standing in the water, would stop her and correct the style while she was facing down into the water.

As he was giving her instructions he would slide his hand through the "big holes" at the bottom of her costume on either side and touch her "private parts" underneath her swimmers.

"Didn't put his hand near my bum, only on my vagina," she said.

The jury has heard multiple girls' accounts of how he allegedly inappropriately touched them.

The trial continues before Judge Kara Shead.

Read more: Kyle Daniels, 22, was entrusted to teach girls to swim. He's accused of 26 crimes against them.

ADVERTISEMENT

UK posts record high new daily virus cases.

The United Kingdom has reported 33,470 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total to date, as the government struggles to control a second wave of infections going into the winter.

The death toll in the UK is higher than the other worst-affected countries in Europe and the number of people killed by coronavirus is only higher in the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

The government has been criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the two country-wide lockdowns, for a shortage of personal protective equipment and for failing to protect the elderly in care homes.

The number of infections rose sharply in October with double the number of cases reported by the end of the month compared to the beginning ahead of the reintroduction of the latest lockdown, a study said on Thursday.

But Britain's testing capacity has also grown since the peak of the first wave of the virus earlier this year when the government made a decision to abandon testing of most people who did not require hospitalisation.

Around the world.

- At least 74 migrants have died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, the United Nations' migration agency says. 

- One of the first cruise ships in the Caribbean waters since the pandemic began has ended its trip early after one passenger fell ill and is believed to have COVID-19.

- With AAP

Feature image: Sam Mooy/Getty/Mark Wilson/GettyA Current Affair.

00:00 / ???