18 deaths in New South Wales, 9,690 cases; Victoria records 20 deaths, 9785 new cases; Heat wave to fuel WA bushfires; Defense to help the elderly care sector

Thanks for following our live blog on breaking news today.

A lot happened on what was Parliament’s first day back for the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged and apologized to political staff who have been bullied, harassed and abused. “I’m sorry. We’re sorry,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison also apologized to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, saying “I’m sorry to Miss Higgins for the terrible things that have happened here”.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese praised Ms Higgins for helping to break the silence on abusive parliamentary culture.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton has promised that the federal government will “do more if necessary” ahead of the deployment of ADF troops to help the aged care sector through its current COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 12,000 senior care residents and staff are currently infected with the virus, and 1,176 facilities nationwide are battling outbreaks.

In New South Wales, COVID-19 cases have increased slightly, with 9,690 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours.

And Queensland has recorded 5,178 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths, aged between 30 and 90. Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said none had received a booster and three were unvaccinated.

Our live blog will be back on Tuesday. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with all the latest news at 9news.com.au and nine.com.au.

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