Australia news LIVE: TGA provisionally approves Pfizer for children aged 5 and up; NSW’s Omicron cases expected to grow

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Key posts

  • ICAC not a consideration as Liberals say Berejiklian shifts thinking on federal tilt
  • No ‘Omicron zero’ for Victoria as state remains in border lockstep with NSW
  • Coalition, Labor gear up for long election campaign on trust
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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ICAC not a consideration as Liberals say Berejiklian shifts thinking on federal tilt

Senior Liberals say the pending findings of a corruption inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian will have no bearing on whether the former NSW premier decides to run federally in Warringah.

Ms Berejiklian is weighing up the possibility of running in the northern Sydney seat two months after resigning from the top job when the Independent Commission Against Corruption revealed she was being investigated over whether she breached the public trust or encouraged the occurrence of corrupt conduct during her secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is considering a tilt at federal politics. Credit:Nick Moir

This masthead has reported that nominations for the seat had been pushed back to January 14 specifically to give Ms Berejiklian more time to weigh up her options.

The ICAC will not report back publicly before the January date, but on Sunday a senior Liberal who did not wish to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the talks said the corruption watchdog’s inquiry was not a consideration for Ms Berejiklian in whether she runs.

Read more about the possibility of the former NSW premier’s tilt at federal politics.

No ‘Omicron zero’ for Victoria as state remains in border lockstep with NSW

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has promised his government will not be pursuing an “Omicron-zero” strategy in the face of the new coronavirus variant, as he flagged the state would remain in step with NSW on travel restrictions.

With Christmas fast approaching, Mr Andrews said Victoria and NSW would do “everything we can” to keep the same travel rules so people could plan family get-togethers and holidays.

Christmas decorations in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall. Premier Daniel Andrews has promised NSW and Victoria will do all they can to keep their borders open to each other ahead of the festive season.Credit:Getty

The South Australian government opted to keep borders open to the rest of the country on the weekend, with two additional testing hurdles for people arriving from Victoria, NSW and the ACT. But Premier Steven Marshall has not ruled out closing the border if Omicron cases rose.

Mr Andrews said he had been texting with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, and the pair had agreed to attempt to keep their border regulations the same and allow movement between their states ahead of the festive season.

Read the full story here.

Coalition, Labor gear up for long election campaign on trust

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is seeking to make next year’s election a referendum on the character of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, while the government is sharpening its accusation that a Labor government would be forced into a coalition with the Greens.

After Anthony Albanese used a campaign rally in Sydney to argue the Prime Minister was prepared to lie to voters to stay in office, Mr Morrison made a plea to voters watching the Bathurst 1000 to focus on the future under the Coalition rather than the “rear vision mirror”.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese launched the party’s unofficial election campaign on Sunday, promising “a better future”.Credit: Edwina Pickles

With Parliament over for the year, Labor and the Coalition are in pre-election mode ahead of the 2022 poll, which must be held before the end of May. A draft parliamentary schedule for next year, released by the government last week, set the date for an early federal budget on March 29 clearing the way for a May election. The calendar can be changed at any time.

Labor, which needs to win at least eight seats to form a working majority in the Parliament, has spent the past three days rolling out key policies including its new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.

Read more about the impending election here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Monday, December 6. I’m Broede Carmody and I’m back on deck to bring you some of the day’s biggest stories as they unfold.

Here’s everything you need to know before we begin this morning’s live coverage.

  • Australia’s drug and medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has given provisional approval for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in children aged 5 and up. This means kids who are between 5- and 11-years-old are on track to receive their COVID-19 vaccine early next year (before schools return from the summer holidays). It’s now up to the country’s panel of vaccine experts, ATAGI, to give the final green light. However, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says no delays are expected. Children will receive a lower dose than adults after the TGA reviewed the data from clinical trials in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said children could be able to get the vaccine from early January. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

  • Speculation is mounting that former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will announce a tilt at federal politics today. Ms Berejiklian is said to be weighing up the possibility of running in Tony Abbott’s former northern Sydney seat of Warringah – which is currently held by socially progressive, economically centrist independent Zali Steggal. Ms Steggal won the seat off the back of a campaign that focused on climate change and greater scrutiny in federal politics. Ms Berejiklian resigned as NSW premier two months ago after the NSW anti-corruption watchdog revealed it was investigating whether she breached the public trust or encouraged the occurrence of corrupt conduct during her secret relationship with former state MP for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire (Ms Berejiklian has said she always acted in the best interests of NSW). It is rare for independents to lose as incumbents at the federal level, but that’s exactly what happened at the 2019 election when Kerryn Phelps went head-to-head with moderate Liberal Dave Sharma.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, left, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year. Credit: Kate Geraghty

  • In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews says his government won’t be pursuing an “Omicron-zero” strategy and will work together with NSW to ensure travel restrictions in both states remain the same ahead of Christmas. It comes after South Australia decided to introduce border restrictions on people from Victoria, NSW and the ACT. Victoria yesterday reported 980 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths. Meanwhile, NSW reported 286 coronavirus cases and one death. NSW has identified 15 cases of the Omicron variant, with links to two Sydney schools.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and his Victorian counterpart Dan Andrews discussed the new variant via text message on Saturday.Credit:Kate Geraghty, Joe Armao

  • In federal politics, Labor leader Anthony Albanese has suggested next year’s election will be a referendum on whether voters can trust Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It comes as Mr Morrison sharpens his own attacks (more recently, suggesting there could be a Labor-Greens coalition). The next federal election is due before the end of May.

Left: Anthony Albanese. Right: Scott MorrisonCredit:Edwina Pickles, Brendon Thone

  • Elsewhere, Queensland is expected to update its vaccine milestone projections later today. The upcoming vaccine targets will determine when border crossings by road will come down. In Western Australia, Cleo Smith’s accused kidnapper is due to face court today. And the ACT reported six cases of COVID-19 yesterday.
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