Australia

Tropical Cyclone Seroja makes landfall in Western Australia

The storm hit the Western Australian coast south of Kalbarri at 8.00pm AWST on Sunday as a category three system.

At 10.00pm AWST the storm weakened to a category two system as it continued moving inland.

Cyclone Seroja is travelling at around 55km/h and significant impacts are expected to extend south and inland through to Wheat Belt communities overnight.

The cyclone will weaken as it moves further inland today but is still likely to result in damaging wind gusts and heavy rain.

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.

Samoa to send about 600 seasonal workers to Australia

The programme is expected to recommence from mid-April to May 2021.

The workers will be the first cohorts to travel to Australia from Samoa since April 2020 in the wake of Covid-19, resulting in international travel restrictions and border closures.

A statement said the first few flights to Australia will include both new and returning workers, including those who planned to travel in the beginning of 2020 but their travel had been cancelled due to the border closures.

First group of Samoan seasonal workers to head to Australia

The group, which includes some women, are scheduled to leave Samoa on 7 April and will undergo a 14-day quarantine period before they're released to start work.

Half of them will be working for three years in meat processing and at a chicken farm while the other half will be working as fruit pickers for seven to nine months.

There are six women who will be cabbage picking in Melbourne.

Meanwhile of the 150 seasonal workers will cast their votes in the pre-polling period for next month's election, which starts on Monday next week.

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.