Australia news LIVE: Melbourne prepares to exit lockdown; Mike Baird to appear at ICAC inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian; Cleo Smith search continues

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Victoria’s double-shot mandate for hospitality causes confusion

Bars and restaurant owners have been left puzzled and angry after the Victorian government issued a last-minute clarification that all hospitality staff must be fully vaccinated before venues can reopen from Friday.

Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday confirmed that cooks, waiters and all other staff in places where one sits down for a meal would need to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine under the road map announced on Sunday, after contradictory information was provided by the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Industry bodies told this masthead they had been advised, incorrectly, earlier in the day that staff would only need to have had one dose by Friday and their second shot booked in before November 26, in line with the government’s vaccine mandate for authorised workers.

“Staff need to be double vaccinated,” Mr Andrews confirmed on Tuesday.

“I don’t think that anyone would find fault with the logic that says if I must be double-dosed to sit down and order a beer or a glass of wine, then the person who’s serving me needs to be double-dosed also.”

Greater Melbourne’s lockdown is due to end at 11.59pm tomorrow night.

Read the full story here.

Berejiklian wanted grant request for Maguire’s electorate accelerated, inquiry told

Former NSW treasurer Gladys Berejiklian wanted a multimillion-dollar grant request for her boyfriend’s Wagga Wagga electorate accelerated and planned to back the proposal before it was presented to the government’s expenditure committee, a corruption inquiry has heard.

A 2016 email tendered to the Independent Commission Against Corruption has suggested Ms Berejiklian indicated she would support funding the Australian Clay Target Association and wanted the grant process to be “brought forward”.

Counsel assisting the ICAC, Scott Robertson, arrives at the ICAC inquiry in Sydney.Credit:Janie Barrett

In the December 6 email, NSW Treasury director Yogi Savania wrote to a fellow department colleague, “Could you try and get her hands on this from [Office of Sport]?”

“The treasurer has requested this be brought forward and has indicated an inclination to support the proposal.”

Ms Berejiklian is yet to give evidence and has not said if the email is consistent with her views. Former premier Mike Baird is due to give evidence to the inquiry today.

Read the full story here.

‘Someone has to know’: Mum of missing Cleo Smith pleads for information on her little girl

There have been three sleepless nights for the family of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith, as her mother Ellie opened up about the nightmare of not knowing where her little girl had gone.

But the WA local, who remains at the remote campground where Cleo was last seen, was also resolute her daughter would be able to overcome the circumstances of her disappearance.

Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith and partner Jake Gliddon.

“I know she’s strong. Cleo was born eight weeks early, she was premature and she’s been strong since the day she was born,” Ms Smith said.

“I know she can get through whatever she is going through.”

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, October 20. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • Changes to Victoria’s border policies came into effect this morning. Fully vaccinated Sydneysiders who have a travel permit can now enter the state without quarantining. However, the arrangement is not reciprocal. Those going from Melbourne to Sydney must quarantine at home. Meanwhile, local bar and restaurant owners have been left puzzled and angry after the Victorian government issued a last-minute clarification that all hospitality staff must be fully vaccinated before venues can reopen on Friday (instead of just having one dose). Premier Dan Andrews says restrictions will remain in place for unvaccinated Victorians well into 2022. The state recorded 1749 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths yesterday.
  • A NSW corruption inquiry has heard former state treasurer Gladys Berejiklian wanted a multimillion-dollar grant request for her then boyfriend’s regional electorate accelerated. Ms Berejiklian, who recently resigned as premier, is yet to give evidence but has previously said she acted in the best interests of NSW. Her predecessor Mike Baird is due to give evidence today. NSW yesterday reported 273 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.
  • The parents of missing four-year-old girl Cleo Smith have addressed the media, pleading with people to come forward with any information about their daughter’s whereabouts. Their little girl was last seen at a remote campground in Western Australia in the early hours of Saturday morning.
  • Elsewhere in Australia, the ACT yesterday recorded 24 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths. Queensland recorded no cases on Tuesday as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defends her plan to keep the majority of Sydneysiders and Melburnians out of her state until just before Christmas.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants his coalition partner, the Nationals, to make their decision on net zero carbon emissions by 2050 by the end of the week. It comes as the PM plans to forge ahead with the policy via cabinet processes rather than legislation, if necessary, in a bid to limit the effects of climate change. Morrison is due to attend international climate talks in Glasgow next week.
  • And in international news, New Zealand yesterday recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the pandemic began (94 new local infections). And Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has been suspended from his team’s season opener after not taking part in a training drill.
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