Australia news live update: Victoria records 2,189 Covid cases, 16 deaths as Melbourne lockdown ends; some Qantas international flights to return early

News corp chief Robert Thomson has told the media diversity inquiry that the power of the digital platforms, in particular Facebook, is of concern as they are acting like publishers but they are not accountable as traditional publishers are. He said from New York via video conference:

There are so many routes by which we can be held accountable. We clearly make mistakes and we should be held accountable for mistakes.

Thomson listed a standards editor, readers editor, corrections editor, a media regulator and libel laws as mechanisms for accountability.

Thomson said News Corp was an extremely diverse company with different views within publications housed in the same building.

Labor senator Kim Carr challenged this claim, saying the News Corp tabloids in Australia often had the same angle on their front pages.



Victoria records 2,189 new cases and 16 deaths


The media diversity inquiry will hear from the global head of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, Robert Thomson, this morning.

You can watch his evidence, which will be heard remotely, live.

Chair of the inquiry Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is keen to grill Thomson about the company’s Mission Zero campaign, which runs counter to its record playing “a large role in the lack of climate action we have seen in Australia”.

Thomson is also expected to answer questions about the dominance of News Corp in Australia’s media landscape.

The invitation to front the Senate was accepted by the New York-based Thomson after the co-chairman of News Corp, Lachlan Murdoch, turned down a request to appear last month.


NSW reports 345 new cases and five deaths


Matilda Boseley

Sophie and Ed were pleasantly surprised to find their usual takeaway spot was open to sit down customers this morning, and are now soaking in the end of lockdown festivities. @GuardianAus

October 21, 2021

The end of lockdown has come just as the first hints of summer start creeping into the Melbourne air, and cafe goers up and down Chapel Street are basking in the sun.

“Very it just feels right,” says Sophie McCann, who is enjoying an ice coffee at the Journeyman Cafe:

It’s a nice day and it just feels like Christmas, you know? Everyone is really festive.

McCann and her partner Ed Von Moger are headed back to their home offices after this but say they have big plans for the night ahead. She says:

I’m just going to my friend’s house and we’re just having some drinks and some takeaway. It’s funny, you know, a couple years ago, it would be like, “Oh, I’m just gonna get some drinks,” but now it’s really really exciting.


James Gearman knows exactly how he wants to spend his first 24 hours of freedom in Melbourne.

“The plan is the drink all day,” he say, laughing.

But first he has something else important to attend to, which has brought him to sitting out front at the Journeyman cafe on Chapel Street:

I can’t cook eggs, so this is the first egg I’ve had in lockdown. It is a relief, I just think it good for everyone.

George, sitting across from Gearman says he has taken the whole day off work to visit friends and start celebrating:

We were saying as soon as he woke up how nice it felt seeing people running, going past all the cafes where people were going in. Just everyone’s happy. Everyone’s positive, everyone got a smile on their face.

Today I’m just going to visit people, catch up. Drink, eat, be merry, have fun.


Green flights between New Zealand’s South Island and Australia will be delayed because Air New Zealand cabin crew cannot meet the quarantine-free travel requirements.

Last week, Australia announced quarantine-free travel would resume from October 20 for people in the Covid-19 free South Island, who had not been in the North Island, for the preceding two weeks.

But Air New Zealand says most of its crew are based out of Auckland and cannot meet the requirements, meaning only red zone flights leaving Auckland and requiring 14 days quarantine, can operate, Newsroom reports.

Air New Zealand’s Leanne Geraghty said:

While we would love to be able to operate quarantine-free flights out of Christchurch, there are a number of operational issues for our airline. The Australian government has stated that our crew need to have been in the South Island for the preceding 14 days before quarantine-free flying. As our main crew group is based out of Auckland, this is unfortunately not viable.

The airline said it is seeking clarity from Australia about when it can continue operating.

Geraghty said customers in the South Island are able to transit in Auckland and connect to red-zone flights heading to Sydney. There are two flights operating per week between the cities from November 5 to December 1, with services increasing to 6 flights a week after then.

New Zealand halted quarantine-free travel with Australia in September for a further eight weeks in the wake of the Delta outbreaks and will review this decision mid-to-late November.

Queensland authorities race to trace contacts of Gold Coast case


New Zealand announces path out of lockdown

New Zealand has announced its new vision for a post-lockdown future, setting some of the most ambitious vaccination targets in the developed world before restrictions will be fully loosened.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern today announced that 90% of eligible New Zealanders needed to be fully vaccinated across each district health board region before the rest of the country moves into the new system:

We cannot ask vaccinated people to stay home forever. So now we need a new playbook to reflect a population protected from Covid.

When the 90% targets are reached, the country will switch to a traffic light system. Even at a “red” setting – the highest levels of restriction – businesses will be able to remain open and vaccinated people will be able to move freely. Those without vaccination certificates will be limited to takeaway food, smaller gatherings and distance learning at universities, and will not be able to use “close contact” businesses such as gyms.

A pop-up vaccination clinic in suburban Auckland

A pop-up vaccination clinic in suburban Auckland. Photograph: Michael Craig/AP

Auckland, which has been in lockdown for several months, would be able to shift to the traffic light system as soon as its DHBs hit 90%, Ardern said, in recognition of the hard work done so far. The city is 16,000 doses away from hitting 90% first doses:

Fully vaccinated people will be able to reconnect with family and friends, go to bars and restaurants and do the things they love with greater certainty and confidence. The framework also provides businesses greater certainty to plan and grow.

If you are still unvaccinated, not only will you be more at risk of catching Covid-19, but many of the freedoms others enjoy will be out of reach. No one wants that to happen but we need to minimise the threat of the virus, which is now mainly spreading amongst unvaccinated people.






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