Australia

Travellers to Western Australia still required to quarantine

Western Australia plans to keep treating New Zealand arrivals like international travellers and enforcing mandatory quarantine - bursting some potential travellers' hopes of travel bubble bliss.

Among them is Moira Green, who launched straight into plans to see her two sons and granddaughter in Fremantle after the announcement of quarantine-free trans-Tasman trips on Tuesday.

Her travel agent broke the news she'd still have to spend two weeks and at least $2500 staying in government-run quarantine if she wanted to get to the state.

NZ, Australia travel no-quarantine bubble to start on 19 April - Ardern, Hipkins

The new settings will begin from 11.59pm on 18 April.

Ardern said the position New Zealand found itself in had still come at a cost.

Cabinet has been meeting today to decide the date the two-way quarantine-free travel will start. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised last month to announce on 6 April when the bubble could begin operating.

She today said airlines had not been given any forewarning about when a bubble with Australia would be opened.

Ardern had previously said the government had carefully worked through the framework of a trans-Tasman bubble.

Australia's Health Minister reassures public over AstraZeneca safety

Health authorities have said it is "likely" the vaccine is linked to a 44-year-old Melbourne man being hospitalised with blood clots, almost a fortnight after he received his injection.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia's medicine regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and an expert advisory group on vaccines maintain the AstraZeneca jab is safe - but are continuing to investigate the incident.

He said authorities had put the vaccine through rigorous testing before allowing its use across the country.

Australia falls 85% short of vaccine delivery goal

The 85% shortfall comes two days after Brisbane entered another snap lockdown to combat a small outbreak.

Last week the government said the vaccine rollout did not demand urgency given Australia's low infection rates.

The country has recorded 909 deaths and 29,300 cases since the pandemic began - far fewer than many other nations.

But sporadic outbreaks have led to six lockdowns in cities in recent months. Critics say situations like Brisbane's outbreak show why a quick vaccine programme is still needed.

Channel Nine cyber-attack disrupts live broadcasts in Australia

The broadcaster said it was unable to air several shows on Sunday, including Weekend Today.

Nine said it was investigating whether the hack was "criminal sabotage or the work of a foreign nation".

Australia's Parliament was also investigating a possible cyber-attack in Canberra on Sunday.

Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie said access to IT and emails at Parliament House had been cut as a precaution. He said this was done in response to issues affecting an "external provider", without elaborating.

Auckland Airport 'ready' with separate zone in terminal

The airport has made plans to segregate at-risk and no-risk travellers - dividing the international terminal into two self-contained processing zones.

Zone A, a safe travel area, will be used exclusively for quarantine-free arrivals and all departures.

Zone B, the health management area, will be used for processing arrivals who are going on to managed isolation facilities.

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood told Morning Report that planning started in August 2020 and its price tag is in the millions.

Rains ease, but fears persist over water levels

Parts of New South Wales have seen almost 1m (3.2ft) of rain, flooding hundreds of homes and severing roads.

Despite the rains subsiding, water levels have not yet peaked in some areas, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Around 18,000 people in NSW have been displaced.

"It is catastrophic in its dimensions," said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Western Sydney was now the "greatest concern".

He said Sydney's largest dam would continue to spill over for at least another week.

Worst flooding in decades sweeps away homes and animals

Parts of New South Wales have seen almost 1m of rain and more is forecast with the peak coming on Tuesday.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and troops deployed as the government warned the floods were extremely dangerous.

Millions in most of the country are under weather warnings.

No deaths have been reported which New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian called a "miracle given what we have been through". Prime Minister Scott Morrison told MPs there was "serious risk still ahead"

Fiji's Bula Bubble suffers setback

Fiji's government said it has proven itself as a safe destination for travellers during the pandemic with no cases reported for more than 320 days.

Fiji said it was ready to open its border to Australia and New Zealand and urged both countries to join Fiji's so-called Bula Bubble scheme.

But its major regional partners say the Fijians are not on the priority list for a seat on the trans-Tasman travel bubble, just yet.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday several concerns needed to be resolved before a trans-Tasman bubble could go ahead.

Australia warned of 'life-threatening' flash floods

Dozens of people have been rescued from floodwaters, and residents in many low-lying communities of New South Wales have been ordered to leave their homes.

Police say hundreds of people have flocked to evacuation centres in areas north of the city of Sydney.

Major roads have been shut. Footage has emerged of a house being swept away.

Warragamba dam in Sydney, the city's main water source, has begun to overflow for the first time since 2016, and WaterNSW warns others are also expected to spill over.