Australia

Australia changes national anthem to reflect indigenous past

The anthem will no longer refer to Australia as "young and free" - in an attempt to reflect the country's long indigenous history.

The announcement was a surprise but welcomed across the government.

Mr Morrison said he hopes the change will create a "spirit of unity".

People inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years before it was colonised by mostly white English settlers in the 18th Century.

Victorians race to get home ahead of Covid border closure

Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan told Victorians the state would close its border to all of NSW from 2 January because of an increase in case numbers in NSW, where 10 new cases were confirmed on Thursday.

"Obviously this is going to cause some disruption for Victorians who may be holidaying, we do apologise for this disruption, however as I said, these difficult decisions are about protecting our community," she said.

"It is a decision based on the public health advice.

Sydney residents urged to stay home amid new outbreak

Officials are scrambling to trace the source of the infection, which so far has been found in 28 cases across the city's Northern Beaches region.

The New South Wales (NSW) government has urged all locals to wear a mask in public areas and to be on "high alert".

Local residents now face curbs on travel to Australia's other states.

The new cluster has sparked national concern and cast uncertainty over many Australians' plans for a relatively normal Christmas.

Prior to Wednesday, the country had recorded just one locally acquired case in the past fortnight.

Shark attack in Western Australia kills man

The attack happened near Cable Beach in the north of the state. The man was pulled from the water but was later pronounced dead.

"Police can confirm that tragically the man has died," Western Australia police said in a statement.

The beach has been closed and the public is being urged to avoid local waters. It is the eighth fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year.

A search for the shark is under way, but its species is not yet known.

Australian police target online paedophile network with links in New Zealand

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the operation was one of Australia's most significant efforts targeting child exploitation.

Investigators identified links through the online forums to alleged child sex offenders residing in Europe, Asia, United States and Canada, and New Zealand, with 146 international referrals made as a result of this investigation, AFP said.

Victoria records 10th day in a row with no new cases

There are now just four active cases in Victoria.

Two of those are 'mystery' cases with an unknown source of infection.

Health authorities carried out 10,653 Covid-19 tests in the past 24 hours.

Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday lifted restrictions across a number of industries, as well as easing some of the limits on social gatherings in Melbourne.

Gyms, cinemas and libraries have been cleared to reopen, but with strict limits on the number of patrons.

'World's longest recorded sea creature' among new finds

Several new species have already been discovered during the project, Institute spokesperson Carlie Wiener said, as well as the "world's longest recorded sea creature" - a 45-metre long siphonophore found at Ningaloo canyon, off Western Australia.

A siphonophore is a type of colonial organism; it's a string-like arrangement of many individual animals - zooids - that live connected together in a colony, and carry out different functions that allow the collective to digest food, float, reproduce and move about.

Victoria records no new coronavirus cases and no deaths

Melbourne's 14-day rolling average for new cases has now fallen to 3.6, and there are seven "mystery" cases.

In regional Victoria the average remains at 0.2.

It is the first day since June 9 that no new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Victoria.

Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said 2,100 tests had been processed from the northern suburbs from yesterday and hundreds more would go through laboratories today.

Australia win ODI opener

Australia recovered from a shaky start to score 294 for nine in their 50 overs and while Sam Billings (118) struck an impressive century, the hosts were always behind the game.

England put the visitors in and had them reeling on 123 for five but Marsh (73) Maxwell (77) helped Australia rebuild on their way to a formidable total.

After slumping to 57-4 in reply and falling way behind the required run rate it looked bleak for England but Jonny Bairstow and Billings shared a century stand for the fifth wicket to edge Eoin Morgan's side back into contention.

Snakes crash through roof of house in Australia

David Tate found one snake in his bedroom and another in the living room on Monday. They weighed 22kg (3.4 stone) between them.

Snake catcher Steven Brown said they were of "exceptional size".

It's thought the two male snakes could have been fighting over a female snake which has not yet been located.

The carpet pythons measured 2.8m (9.1 feet) and 2.5m long.

Mr Tate said he had previously seen snakes basking in the sun on his roof.

"When I came back...there was a large slab [of ceiling] on the kitchen table," he told The Courier-Mail.