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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Daisy Dumas and Mostafa Rachwani (earlier)

Man found dead after statewide search – as it happened

Kevin Jewell was suspected of murdering his wife at their Adelaide.
Kevin Jewell was suspected of murdering his wife at their Adelaide. Photograph: South Australia Police/PR IMAGE

What we learned; Thursday 23 November

It’s the end of another busy day here. Here’s our Thursday wrap:

  • Ten homes have been lost to bushfires in Wanneroo in Perth’s north, where the out-of-control blaze continues to burn in highly volatile conditions.

  • A group of people was detected at an isolated section of the northern WA coast on Wednesday after arriving by boat, prompting Coalition accusations about resumption of dangerous boat journeys.

  • Anthony Albanese said the Australian government welcomes steps towards a ceasefire in Gaza, but reiterated it “can’t be one-sided”.

  • Industry minister Ed Husic said it is “extraordinarily crass” for the opposition to use the issuing of 860 temporary visas to Palestinians as a moment to try to score political points after the Coalition questioned the security process behind the visas.

  • Bruce Lehrmann took the stand for the second day in the high-profile defamation case this morning as his legal team takes him through the events of the night Brittany Higgins claims she was sexually assaulted.

  • Police have found the body of Kevin Jewell, who triggered a statewide manhunt after his wife, Jodie, was shot dead at their South Australia home on Tuesday evening.

  • Bill Shorten’s office was vandalised in an apparent response to his calls to “dial down the degree of aggro” in Australia over Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

  • And, finally, best of luck tonight to all of Guardian Australia’s Walkley award nominees.

Thanks for joining us today.


The 68th annual Walkley awards will soon be handed out in Sydney, with Guardian Australia nominated across feature writing, commentary and analysis, news photography and specialist reporting categories.

Best of luck to political editor Katharine Murphy, Indigenous affairs editor Lorena Allam, social affairs and inequality editor Luke Henriques-Gomes, inequality reporter Stephanie Convery, Queensland correspondent Ben Smee, reporter Christopher Knaus and photographer Dean Sewell.

Read more about all seven nominees’ standout work:


Queensland to allocate $1.2m for home births trial

The Queensland government will fund home births for the first time, leaving Tasmania as the only state or territory that does not fund home births.

Health minister Shannon Fentiman announced the state will allocate $1.2m for a trial in the Sunshine Coast.

It will be provided by Queensland health midwives employed under the midwife group practice model from the Sunshine Coast university hospital. It will only be available for low-risk births, and not twins or triplets.

There is also a requirement that the home be close enough to the hospital in case of an emergency and that it be assessed as suitable.

“Queensland women have spoken, and we have listened,” Fentiman said.

“Queensland women deserve access to high-quality, respectful, and reliable maternity services, and this new service is a significant step towards expanding those options available.”


Continuing on the case seeking to free Iranian asylum seeker Ned Kelly Emeralds, and Matthew Albert, Emerald’s counsel, told the federal court hearing that his client had tried to kill himself in detention, vowing “I will not go back to be tortured and killed by a regime I despise”. In one incident in 2015 Emeralds injured his neck, after which he was left mute.

Albert said that after the high court’s NZYQ decision cases of indefinite detention such as his client’s “should never happen again”.

Albert submitted that there was no real prospect of Emerald being deported: first, because he had no travel document after his Iranian passport expired; and secondly, because Iran has a policy of not accepting involuntary return, even of its citizens.

Albert submitted the commonwealth had “done nothing” to look for alternatives to Iran, and there was “not a skerrick” of evidence that his predicament could change in the foreseeable future.

Greg Johnson, counsel for the commonwealth, said Emeralds was seeking to “ride on the coattails of the recent order” of the high court, for which reasons are yet to be given. The full decision may add “qualification” to the test in cases of “uncooperative” persons, he said.

Unlike NZYQ, in which the impossibility of deportation was agreed by the parties, Johnson said in this case it was in dispute because it was the “applicant’s choice” not to return to Iran, Johnson submitted.

The commonwealth argued that it might be possible to deport Edwards if he met Iranian officials or gave them information to get a new travel document.

Edwards had refused to cooperate with Iranian authorities because his parents and siblings are still in Iran and would be placed at risk if authorities knew he had sought asylum, the court heard.

The federal court has reserved judgment in a case seeking to free Iranian asylum seeker Ned Kelly Emeralds, who has spent more than a decade in immigration detention.

Lawyers for Emeralds, including the Human Rights Law Centre, are hoping to use the new high court precedent of NZYQ to release the man, on the basis there is no prospect of deporting him.

On Thursday, justice Geoffrey Kennett labelled it a “particularly disturbing case” given the length of time in detention, but reserved judgment, likely to be delivered next week.

Emeralds arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and has been detained since that time. According to the Human Rights Law Centre, which represents him, Emeralds was detained while his protection visa application was processed; he has not had a visa cancelled, nor been sentenced for a crime.

In 2016, Emeralds was found to be owed protection by one officer of the Department of Home Affairs. A second officer refused his application for a protection visa in 2018 on the basis he did not have a well-founded fear of return.


A group of people was detected at an isolated section of the northern Western Australian coast on Wednesday after arriving by boat, prompting Coalition accusations about resumption of dangerous boat journeys.

The Coalition has claimed the group, of whom 12 are currently in Australian Border Force custody, is the 10th people smuggling venture to reach Australia since the election of the Albanese government. It is not yet clear if they are asylum seekers or fishermen.

The Australian, which first reported the group’s arrival, said police from Kalumburu flew to the Truscott air base near where Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal people found the new arrivals, who were reportedly “in poor shape”.

Continue reading:

Inquest into Wieambilla police deaths set for July 2024

Hearings for the coroner’s inquest into the murder of two police officers at Wieambilla in Queensland in 2022 could run for as long as a month.

Coroner Terry Ryan is looking into the deaths of Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow at a property outside Tara on 12 December 2022. The two officers and good Samaritan neighbour Alan Dare were gunned down by Gareth, Nathaniel and Stacey Train in what police have described as a “religiously motivated terrorist attack”.

Council assisting the coroner Ruth O’Gorman KC today told a pre-inquest conference that a court room at Brisbane magistrates court has been booked from 29 July to 26 August next year for hearings.

“That’s not an indication that consideration has been given to the inquest taking a full month, simply that that time ought to be set aside,” she said.

Last month, coroner Ryan visited the site of the shooting at 251 Wains Road, Wieambilla.

The three Trains were killed in a gun battle with a Queensland police special emergency response team after a six-hour siege.

An earlier pre-inquest conference heard that evidence is expected to contain interviews, walk-throughs, statements from 152 witnesses and forensic examinations.


More news is coming out of Western Australia, where bushfires are raging to the north of Perth in the middle of a heatwave.

Authorities say the conditions are changeable and challenging, as firefighters continue to fight the blaze in Wanneroo. It has already destroyed 10 homes and four sheds.

“It’s still a very, very highly volatile fire,” a WA department of fire and emergency services spokesperson said.

The eastern edge appears to be benign, but we are expecting wind changes that are going to reverse the fire back to the south-east and challenge the containment line.

The perimeter of the blaze is 53km long.

Firefighters are working to contain the fire at Wanneroo in the face of high temperatures and expected wind changes.
Firefighters are working to contain the fire at Wanneroo in the face of high temperatures and expected wind changes. Photograph: DFES/AP


Transgender Victoria (TGV) is urging policymakers and the public to provide more support in light of the coronial inquest into the five young transgender women who took their own lives between 2020 and 2021.

The peak body stated:

While the Coronial inquiry has thus far been respectful and accommodating of trans perspectives, there is still need for access to culturally appropriate and sensitive services for trans and gender diverse communities in Victoria including:

-gender affirming health care

-suicide prevention and postvention supports

-social and emotional wellbeing supports

-accessible and safe(r) mainstream services.

At the inquest, the relationship between police and trans and gender diverse communities will be a focus.

Son Vivienne, chief executive of Transgender Victoria said:

This relationship has been historically fraught but in recent years it has become worse.

We are aware that many transgender and gender diverse people are reluctant to dial 000 to access police support, even when their lives are in danger. Transgender Victoria calls for urgent, transparent and accountable improvements to practices and processes in policing to create a sense of safety and support for these communities.

TGV called for sustainable funding for trans-led organisations that specialise in providing support services, education, and advocacy for the community.


Prince Edward is visiting Australia this week and today met with junior New South Wales Rural fire service members.

The Duke of Edinburgh talked with the young volunteers as part of his work as the patron of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.


The Victorian department of health has warned of a high risk of thunderstorm asthma in parts of the state tomorrow.

Mallee and north central Victoria are affected:

When asked for a response to Ed Husic’s comments and whether the Coalition was questioning the visas, Nationals leader David Littleproud told Afternoon Briefing:

Why wouldn’t we? We’d want to make sure due process has taken place not only on the Palestinians and Israelis that have come in but every citizen that comes into this country.

We’ve seen in the last week … this government hasn’t been up to due process when we saw those that were in detention were let out, and today the home affairs minister had no idea that there were four child sex offenders running around our streets without a tracking bracelet on them.

He said that Australia is a “multicultural success story” and that the Coalition wants the nation’s streets to remain safe.

We understand and appreciate the emotion around this but it has to be done respectfully.


Coalition ‘point-scoring’ over temporary visas for Palestinians, Ed Husic says

Industry minister Ed Husic says it is “extraordinarily crass” for the opposition to use the issuing of 860 temporary visas to Palestinians as a moment to try to score political points after the Coalition questioned the security process behind the visas.

Speaking with ABC’s Afternoon Briefing, he said:

It is crass because a lot of Australian Palestinians … have lost family in Gaza, and want to be able to help remaining family get out of harm’s way. It is both Australians and Palestinians who want to help their loved ones, and if they connect them up with a visa, why would the Coalition have any problem with trying to get people out of harm’s way?

Ultimately, and why would they try to score crass political points, at the point of a hardship, and when people are feeling the weight and feeling anxiety and concern? … They should be asked why they have a problem with trying to help with Australians trying to help family and loved ones get out of harm’s way.


Lehrmann ‘mistaken’ when telling AFP there was no alcohol in his office, court hears

The federal court has heard Bruce Lehrmann was not telling the truth when he told Australian federal police in a formal interview used in his criminal trial there was no alcohol in his office.

Under cross-examination from Network Ten’s barrister, Dr Matt Collins SC, Lehrmann agreed there were several bottles of whisky and gin in his office when he worked for Senator Linda Reynolds in 2019.

He was shown photographs of his collection of bottles of alcohol and he agreed they were his.

Collins: “You gave an interview didn’t you to the Australian federal police on the 19th of April 2021?”

“And you understood the importance of telling the truth when you are attending that interview?”

Lehrmann: “Yes.”

Collins told the federal court that at Lehrmann’s criminal trial in the ACT supreme court in October 2022 a video of the record of interview was played to the jury. He said Lehrmann also gave instructions to his counsel that he was telling the truth.

This video was played to the federal court and it showed Lehrmann telling the AFP there was no alcohol in his office.

Collins: “In that record of interview you told the Australian federal police that there was no alcohol in Minister Reynolds office as at the 23rd of March 2019?

Lehrmann: “Well, clearly, as we’ve seen … I’ve been mistaken there.”


Adelaide gunman found dead after statewide manhunt

Police have found the body of Kevin Jewell, who triggered a statewide manhunt after his wife, Jodie, was shot dead at their Modbury North, South Australia, home on Tuesday evening.

The 55-year-old is alleged to have murdered Jodie before fleeing the scene armed with a gun and ammunition.

South Australia police said:

A man’s body, believed to be wanted suspect Kevin Jewell, has been found several km’s [sic] north of Curramulka, on the Yorke Peninsula.

Following information from a member of the public Police attended the intersection of Boundary and Brooke Roads, Curramulka about 11.30am this morning, Thursday 23 November, and located the suspect’s white 2008 Mitsubishi Triton ute and a search found the man deceased about 150 metres away.

Major Crime detectives and Forensic Response Section are making their way to the Curramulka property and will conduct a coronial investigation into the man’s death.

The police said there were no suspicious circumstances and thanked the public for their assistance with the matter.


More details are emerging regarding the six-hour siege in northern NSW:

As we reported earlier, a 45-year-old man was taken into custody before being transferred from Wollongbar to Lismore Base hospital for examination.

No one was injured in the incident and the man is yet to be charged.

NSW police assistant commissioner Peter McKenna said the operation ended with no major issues.

“We had really experienced police in the area,” he said. “We had our tactical police, highly trained police negotiators.”

They are specialists in talking to people and trying to resolve incidents safely and that’s what happened on this occasion.


BoM issues severe thunderstorm warning for parts of NSW

As bushfires blaze in Western Australia, the scene is different in parts of New South Wales and Queensland, where wet weather is triggering warnings.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for parts of NSW’s north west slopes and plains, central west slopes and plains and upper western districts.

The bureau says heavy rain, damaging winds and large hail are possible.

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding over the next several hours in parts of the North West Slopes and Plains, Central West Slopes and Plains and Upper Western districts. Locations which may be affected include Walgett, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Goodooga and Weilmoringle.


Santos’ Narrabri gas field project delayed – again

The fate of Santos’ proposed Narrabri gas field is one of the longest-running sagas in Australian energy – and it looks like stretching out even further.

Sharp-eyed opponents of the coal-seam gas field in northern NSW have noted the energy giant has quietly pushed back its final investment decision (FID) on the project until 2025.

A year ago at a similar investor briefing, Santos had pencilled in the FID down to 2023-24. That date was subject to “securing pipeline approvals and native title determination”.

We’ve asked Santos what the latest reason is for the project’s delay. Environmental activist group Lock the Gate notes the federal government has announced it would reconsider a 14-year-old decision not to assess the project’s Hunter Gas pipeline under commonwealth environmental laws.

It also follows news that the NSW government has axed a “special activation precinct” in Narrabri which “would have supported Santos’ project by creating artificial demand for the gas”, Lock the Gate says.

“Santos’ attempts to bury this major delay to Narrabri gas in an investor announcement proves what we’ve been saying all along: the Narrabri gas project does not stack up,” LTG’s coordinator Carmel Flint said.

Santos’ gamble isn’t paying off, it’s well past time to pack it up and go home Santos,” she said.

Protesters rally against the planned Santos Narrabri gas project in Sydney in September 14.
Protesters rally against the planned Santos Narrabri gas project in Sydney in September 14. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


Zoe Daniel, independent MP for Goldstein, has commented on energy minister Chris Bowen’s boost to the taxpayer-underwritten scheme to support new clean power generation and storage capacity.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” she said.

It provides the promise of cheaper, greener energy for consumers, both households and businesses, certainty to investors, and a sure pathway out of coal and gas for our energy generators.

A similar, albeit much smaller scheme in the ACT has resulted in consumers having among the lowest power prices in the country.

Back to northern NSW, where a man has been taken into custody as part of a police operation.

Emergency services were called to a private property on the Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, following a concern for welfare, at about 8am today, confirmed NSW Police.

At about 2pm, a 45-year-old man was taken into custody by officers from the force’s tactical operations unit. He has been taken to Lismore Base Hospital under police guard.

The operation forced students and staff at Wollongar TAFE and nearby buildings into lockdown.

The Bruxner Highway will remain closed for “some time”.


Residents’ accounts of a massive and active bushfire that has destroyed 10 homes and four sheds in Wanneroo to the north of Perth are emerging.

Sarah Kilian stayed to defend her Tapping home from the blaze that ripped through nearby market gardens and engulfed a local park after leaping a four-lane road, reports AAP.

“There was two massive fires coming down the road and smoke everywhere,” she told AAP on Thursday.

“We haven’t slept a wink.”

Ms Kilian said most of her neighbours left during the night as embers descended on their homes that border semi-rural properties.

“Lucky my hubby stomped them out. It was just scary all night – absolutely chaotic,” she said.

Smoke continues to rise from the fire grounds and a lone water bomber can be seen swooping down on bushland across a paddock of green vegetables.

Smoke rises over Banksia Grove in the northern suburbs of Perth.
Smoke rises over Banksia Grove in the northern suburbs of Perth. Photograph: SUPPLIED/PR IMAGE


Western Australia’s department of fire and emergency services has issued a bushfire emergency warning to parts of Wanneroo as a bushfire that razed 10 homes continues to burn in the area.

The warning covers residents of the area bound by Castledene Way, Da Vinci Drive, Ashley Road, Pinjar Road, Saponara Drive, Rhoeo Outlook, Vincent Road, Garden Park Drive, Belgrade Road, Franklin Road, Trichet Road Hawkins Road, Wirrega Road, Galah Road, Silver Road, Coogee Road, Tumbleweed Drive and Joondalup Drive in Wanneroo in Perth’s north.

The DFES said:

Please note it’s too late to leave for people east of PINJAR ROAD. Shelter in place immediately.


About 100 firefighters are still fighting a bushfire in Wanneroo to the north of Perth.

Overnight, firefighting teams and a “considerable aerial fleet” fought the blaze, which has burned 10 homes, four sheds and numerous vehicles and infrastructure.

DFES commissioner Darren Klemm said a number of firefighters had sustained minor injuries but none were taken to hospital.

With significant fire weather predicted for the rest of the day and the next two days, he said additional aircraft and crews were available and on stand-by across the state and country.

I have spoken to my interstate counterparts … we’ll see how today plays out – but I may consider later today the need or not to access resources from other states and territories.


Bushfires north of Perth destroy 10 homes

Ten homes have been lost to bushfires to the north of Perth.

Western Australia acting premier Rita Saffioti said 10 homes, four sheds and numerous vehicles, including caravans, were lost in fires in Wanneroo overnight.

There’s also damage to a range of infrastructure, including power poles. But as this is a live emergency, it will take time to confirm the extent of the damage. The forecast for today is unforgiving. The temperature is expected to hit a maximum of 40 degrees, and the winds continue to be strong.

Today will be a difficult day for everybody involved, but again I want to thank all of those who have done so much to keep damage to a minimum.

Seventy to 130 people were forced to take refuge in Blossom Gum Community Centre overnight.

More to come.


Back to Melbourne, where hundreds of students have broken out into a “Free, Free Palestine” chant on the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street station.

The students who are participating in the schools strike have spilled out onto the road to block the Flinders and Swanston steeet intersection.

Year 11 student Audra, co-organiser of the rally, tells the crowd they must continue to stand with Palestine:

To strike for Palestine, to defy our principals and politicians who tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about.

I walked out of school today with all of you to take a stand on the right side of history.

People participate in a Pro-Palestine demonstration in Melbourne, Thursday, November 23, 2023. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING
Students gather for a Pro-Palestine demonstration in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


And with that I leave the blog in the hands of Daisy Dumas. Thanks for reading.

Robbie Williams has paid tribute to the fan who died at his concert last week.

A 70-year-old woman died after a fall down some stairs at one of Williams’ shows in Sydney last week, and at a show in Melbourne last night, he acknowledged her and dedicated a song to her:

When something like this happens, it breaks my heart and I have been thinking about it an awful lot, and thought about it all the way through the show tonight, so let’s all sing up.

She was somebody just like you who came to the gig, just like you did tonight, and this is for her.


Victorian students are gathering at the steps of Flinders Street station in Melbourne ahead of a planned rally to support Palestine this afternoon.

Children from schools such as Pascove Vale Girls college and Caulfield primary school have walked out of class to attend the strike. Some students are draped in the Palestinian flag while others are holding “Free Palestine” posters.

The rally has attracted backlash, with an open letter from members of Victoria’s Jewish community urging premier Jacinta Allan and education minister Ben Carroll to take a tougher stance against the strike.

Allan said she expected students to stay in school while her federal counterpart Jason Clare said pupils should be in the classroom during school hours.

A pro-Palestine schools strike in Sydney is also planned for Friday.


This chart has been widely shared on social media after the Commonwealth Bank’s latest cost of living insights report showed that people of different ages are experiencing the increased cost of living in different ways.

The bank’s analysis of transaction data shows that younger people are cutting back on spending compared to the same time last year, even on essential items, while older people’s spending continues to increase (though it hasn’t increased as much as inflation over the same period for most older age groups):

Origin Energy delays takeover vote until 4 December after revised bid

As expected, Origin Energy had “adjourned” its planned shareholder vote on a $20bn bid by Brookfield and EIG after receiving a revised offer from the suitors.

That vote will now be held on 4 December rather than this afternoon, the company said, admitting that it was “unlikely” the existing scheme would have received the necessary 75% vote in favour.

Should the $9.43 a share offer not proceed, Brookfield would buy Origin’s energy markets business for $12.3bn. EIG would take over the rest, subject to a 50.1% minimum acceptance.

“In the event the Alternative Transaction proceeds, it is proposed that shareholders would receive total cash consideration of up to approximately $9.08 per Origin share,” Origin states.

“While the Alternative Transaction may present an additional opportunity for shareholders to receive cash value for their shares, the Board notes that the transaction appears inferior to the existing Scheme,” Origin said.

“The Board has significant reservations as to the complexity, conditionality and differing value, and potential adverse tax outcomes to Origin and shareholders, nevertheless the Board has a responsibility to fully assess this Revised Proposal so it can provide an informed view about its merits or otherwise to shareholders.”

Given Origin was trading at $8.42 a share before it was halted today, investors are being offered a choice of $9.43 or $9.08 (give or take). Cue a couple more weeks of intense lobbying, including on Australian Super, the main holdout on that higher offer.


Lehrmann tells court he lied to his chief of staff about reason for being in office after hours

Bruce Lehrmann says he lied to his chief of staff, Fiona Brown, about his reason for visiting minister Linda Reynolds’ office after-hours, telling her he went there to drink whisky.

Asked by his barrister Steven Whybrow SC why he said it if it was not true, he said he was “incredibly nervous” and that Brown’s “tone was tense”.

“I was of a mindset that if I was to tell her that I was working on the Question Time briefs she might have took that to be an even greater security breach, with flow-on effects.

Lehrmann clarified that he was referring to the possibility the AFP may become involved because he had worked on ministerial documents after hours.

At that meeting, Brown told him to pack his things and hand in his pass and he carried two boxes out through the ministerial entrance without speaking to anyone.


Lehrmann denies sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins on ‘innocuous evening’ in Parliament House

Bruce Lehrmann has told the federal court he did not sexually assault Brittany Higgins in Parliament House and he did not see her again after they entered the ministerial office in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Lehrmann’s barrister, Steven Whybrow SC: “Did you sexually assault Brittany Higgins in that office on that evening?”

Lehrmann: “Absolutely not.”

Whybrow: “Did you see her again after she turned right?”

Lehrmann: “I did not.”

Lehrmann said he thought the Friday night he went out and went into Parliament House “was an innocuous evening”.

Lehrmann said Higgins was not with him when he went into his office and read Question Time files and made some notes about the ministerial briefs for 30 to 40 minutes.

“I placed my phones down on my desk and read the Question Time folder which was opposite me.”

He said after he annotated the files for Question Time he picked up his phone and saw he had missed calls and he grabbed his keys and left the office.

He said did not touch his computer while he was in his office and he could not see Higgins’ workstation from where he was and had no further interaction with her.

Lehrmann said he didn’t think to tell Higgins he was leaving because he “wasn’t even sure she was still there” and he had told her earlier he was going to get what he wanted and leave.


Queensland considers trial of condoms in prisons

Queensland is considering a trial of condoms in prisons – a decade after all other Australian jurisdictions have already moved to implement them in corrective facilities.

A Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) spokesperson told Guardian Australia a working party has been established between QCS, Queensland Health and Together Union to consider a trial of condoms in prisons.

Queensland Corrective Services is working closely with lead agency Queensland Health to reduce the risk of infectious diseases in correctional facilities, including consideration of evidence-based preventative measures and interventions,” they said.

“No decision has been made at this time and all elements and related issues would be evaluated and considered before any formal implementation.”

The spokesperson said “the health of prisoners and preventing the spread of communicable diseases has a significant impact on the health of the wider community.”

The sunshine state is the only jurisdiction that does not provide condoms to prisoners – New South Wales and Western Australia started doing so in the 1990s, and every other state and territory implemented them by 2013.

Queensland last ran a trial of condoms in prisons in the 1990s.

The World Health Organization, along with Australian health experts, have long advocated for condoms to be provided to prisoners in a bid to prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted diseases.


Police operation under way in northern NSW

Police say that at around 8am this morning, emergency services were called to a private property on the Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, following a concern for welfare.

In a statement, they provided very few details but said a range of teams were involved and that roads had been closed around the area:

Officers from Richmond police district remain at the scene – with assistance from PolAir, police negotiators, and the Tactical Operations Unit.

As a result of the ongoing operation, the Bruxner Highway is closed in both directions between Sneaths Road and McLeans Ridges Road.

An exclusion zone is in place, those in the vicinity of the Bruxner Highway and Lindendale Road intersection are advised to stay indoors. However there is no ongoing risk to the public.


Search under way for man missing in bushland north of Sydney

AAP is reporting that a multi-agency search is under way for a man in his 30s, who contacted his family to say he was lost in bushland in northern Sydney.

Adrian Banciu, 33, was last seen at his home at Macquarie Park, in the city’s north, on 12 November.

Five days later after he had been reported missing, Mr Banciu contacted his family and emergency services saying he was lost in bushland close to Berowra Valley national park, on Sydney’s northern outskirts.

Multiple police rescue units as well as the SES and Rural Fire Service began scouring bushland near Mt Kuring-Gai to try to find him.

Police believe Mr Banciu was near an aquatic centre at Hornsby on the day after he was last spotted and he then entered some bush off Galston Road at Hornsby Heights.

Extensive searches have taken place since he was last heard from, but he has not been found.

Police and his family have serious concerns for his welfare.

Mr Banciu is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 175cm tall with a thin build and a black beard.

He was last seen wearing a maroon flannelette shirt, tan shorts and black velcro sneakers.

Police have called for anyone with information about his location to contact authorities.


Confusion over status of $20bn takeover bid for Origin Energy

Origin Energy, one of the country’s biggest electricity generators, was intending to hold a 2pm aedt shareholders vote today in Sydney on a $20bn takeover bid by Brookfield and EIS.

(The former is a Canadian asset investor and the latter, a US-based fossil fuel firm with some Saudi Arabian backing.)

Anyway, initially pitched at a $18.7bn bid a year ago, and later sweetened to win over shareholders, the bid had looked likely to fail at today’s vote because of opposition from Australian Super. AusSuper holds about 17.5% and had looked likely to raise enough doubts among other shareholders to prevent the offer receiving the needed 75% approval.

The Australian Financial Review has been reporting that the bidders had lobbed a “plan B” arrangement should today’s offer fall over. It looks to be offering $9.20 a share rather than $9.43, and higher than yesterday’s close of Origin stock at $8.42.

Origin won’t comment on any revised offer and why it might be more attractive. It’s also not clear whether the vote will be postponed, but that seems likely. In any case, the stock is in a trading halt and we expect Origin to reveal more of what’s going on soon.

Brookfield had proposed accelerating Origin’s decarbonisation, including spending $20bn-$30bn on new renewables. So a lot is at stake, one way or another.

Lehrmann tells court he lied to security staff when he went into Parliament House with Brittany Higgins

Bruce Lehrmann has admitted he lied to security staff in order to get into Parliament House after midnight on the night Brittany Higgins claimed he raped her.

Lehrmann said he claimed he needed to pick up documents for the minister he worked for, Linda Reynolds, because if he told the truth about needing to pick up his house keys “that security would have said ‘bugger off and come back next week’. And I needed to get home”.

Lehrmann said security staff let him and Higgins into the house and he did not think Higgins was drunk, only moderately intoxicated.

“She was perfectly fine, functioning,” he said.


Lehrmann says he was ‘moderately intoxicated’ on night of alleged rape

Bruce Lehrmann has told the federal court he did not see Brittany Higgins “stumbling” when they left a Canberra nightclub before heading to Parliament House on the night she claims he raped her.

Lehrmann said he was “moderately intoxicated” but he had to go to his office to collect his house keys.

Lehrmann said Higgins said she also had to go to Parliament House and he offered her a lift.

“I was ordering an Uber and I offered her a lift,” Lehrmann said.

Justice Michael Lee earlier made an order that there be no order as to costs in the matter between the ABC and Lehrmann.


Minister's Melbourne office vandalised

Bill Shorten’s office has been vandalised in an apparent response to his calls to “dial down the degree of aggro” in Australia over Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

The NDIS minister and former Labor leader’s office in Moonee Ponds was covered in red paint and graffiti that read “dial down the apartheid Bill”.

He told 3AW this morning that he believed the graffiti was in response to his comments:

Obviously, someone took offence at me saying we should promote social cohesion and dial down the aggro and the confrontation .

I also said in that interview, which has obviously triggered some hoon, that the scenes in the Middle East in Palestine and Gaza and Israel are incredibly distressing.

And, of course, people have a right to have a view about it [and] they’ve got a right to express their view.

But there’s a fine line isn’t there – or maybe it’s not fine, maybe it’s a really easy line to see – where you cross over, and you’re just sort of demonising and attacking people.

Victoria police at Bill Shorten’s electoral office in Moonee Ponds this morning.
Victoria police at Bill Shorten’s electoral office in Moonee Ponds this morning. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


Middle East ceasefire 'can't be one-sided', PM says

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the Australian government welcomes steps towards a ceasefire in Gaza, but reiterated that it “can’t be one-sided”.

The PM, who has kept a relatively lower public profile this week after returning from Apec in San Francisco, has been on a media run this morning – holding a press conference, an awkward appearance on FM radio, and a somewhat more dignified spot on ABC Sydney just now.

It’s for the 100th anniversary of ABC radio, and in between telling some log cabin stories about Double J and his childhood, the PM was asked about the agreement in the Middle East.

“We welcome steps towards ceasefire. It can’t be one-sided, but we need to make sure that what we’ve seen occur, beginning with the terrorist action October 7, of course was just devastating,” Albanese said.

“And since then we’ve seen too much life being lost. We mourn every Palestinian and every Israeli who is innocent, who’s been a victim here. And so we welcome any steps towards ceasefire.”

Albanese went on to say they wanted to see “a long-term solution as well”.

“We want to see political settlement that leads to two states. We want to see Palestinians and Israelis living in security in the region,” he said.


Lehrmann to take the stand for second day in defamation trial

Bruce Lehrmann will take the stand for the second day in the high-profile defamation case this morning as his legal team takes him through the events of the night Brittany Higgins claims she was raped.

Lehrmann maintains his innocence and pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual intercourse without consent, denying that any sexual activity had occurred.

The former Liberal staffer is suing Network Ten and its presenter Lisa Wilkinson for an interview with Higgins broadcast on The Project and online.

As Network Ten defends its reporting it has engaged the services of an international expert lip reader to examine the CCTV from the venue Higgins and Lehrmann attended on the night of the alleged rape.

Justice Michael Lee will hear Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins argue the admissibility of the evidence after Lehrmann’s barrister said he had “concerns” about it.

“We deliberately chose an expert from the United Kingdom, who had no familiarity with either Ms Higgins or Mr Lehrmann,” Collins said late on Wednesday.

“I requested when I was reviewing footage in the course of preparing a cross examination it was kind of … surprising that no one had done it before,” Collins said.

“It does provide some material which … we will say is of some significant probative weight for a couple of issues Your Honour has to decide.”

Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the federal court yesterday.
Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the federal court yesterday. The former Liberal staffer is suing Network Ten and presenter Lisa Wilkinson. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Whistleblower David McBride to be sentenced in March 2024

Army whistleblower David McBride will learn of his fate next March after he pleaded guilty to three charges on Friday, including stealing commonwealth information and passing that on to journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

On Thursday the ACT supreme court registrar pencilled in his sentencing date for 12 March 2024 at 10am, which is expected to last one day.

The commonwealth and McBride’s team are still in discussions over an agreed statement of facts but if an agreement isn’t reached, they will be argued in court in March.

Last Friday, Justice David Mossop ordered an intensive correction orders assessment. If granted, it means McBride could avoid jail time.

Justice Mossop on Wednesday said the reasons for his decision to uphold a commonwealth intervention to withhold key documents on national security grounds remain hidden until appropriate redactions are applied and agreed on by both parties.

That process, Justice Mossop requested, should be completed “as soon as practicable”.

The Australian government solicitor, Andrew Berger, had argued last week the release of some documents McBride had been hoping to use in his defence would be against the public interest.

“The public interest at play here is a very important one, the national security and defence of this country ... indeed, we say it is harder to think of a stronger public interest than the security and defence of Australia?”

David McBride leaves the ACT supreme court last week. He will learn of his fate next March.
David McBride leaves the ACT supreme court last week. He will learn of his fate next March. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


PM rebuffs questions about visas for Gazans

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, held a quick presser this morning, at Meadowbank TAFE, where he was peppered with questions about the whether granting visas to people from Gaza was a risk.

One journalist even asked how the government can ensure the refugees were “aligned with Australian values”.

Unsure if any other group of people escaping a warzone can be questioned like that before they even arrive, but here we are.

The PM batted the questions away, echoing what Penny Wong said earlier today, that the visas were granted via the usual process:

We have an appropriate visa system and security system in place. It’s the same that has been in place for some time.

These are temporary visas, there are the same security checks that in place for people, for Australians that have been in place for this regime for a long period of time.


Education minister urges school students not to strike

Ahead of a planned student strike in support of Palestine in Melbourne today, the education minister, Jason Clare, said “school students should be at school during school hours”.

Clare was on the Today Show earlier this morning, and urged students not to take part in the strike:

When school is on, students should be at school.

The key thing is if you want to change the world, get an education and that means going to school.

I have had Jewish friends saying they are worried about sending their kids to school, and Muslim people telling me they are worried about their family in Gaza.

People [are] telling me about displays of antisemitism and Islamophobia on the street at the moment and that is not us.

We have to work to keep our country together at this time.


Bowen to argue for ‘stronger progress’ at Cop28

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, will be attending the UN’s Climate Change Conference, or Cop28, in Dubai next week and said on RN Breakfast he will be “arguing for stronger” progress:

We will be arguing for stronger mitigation language, we’ll be arguing for progress on things like loss and damage, global climate finance etc.

We’ve set our targets, we’ll be announcing our 2035 target in due course, but … unlike under previous management Australia will be seen at the table, arguing for progress, being very constructive partners with like-minded parties.

I’ve spent a lot of time … talking, including in the middle of the night, to my international counterparts about how we can best progress at this Cop [Conference of the Parties], last Cop Australia and others were working just to maintain the status quo, just to defend what had been done at Glasgow.

We want to see forward progress with this Cop.

Australian energy minister Chris Bowen
Climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen: ‘We will be arguing for stronger mitigation language.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Emergency bushfire warning in WA

An emergency bushfire warning has been issued for parts of Wanneroo, north of Perth, with emergency services urging locals to act immediately.

Emergency WA issued the warning for Banksia Grove, Jandabup, Mariginiup, Melaleuca, Sinagra, Tapping and Wanneroo.

It is advising residents to “act immediately to survive”:

There is a threat to lives and homes. The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as the bushfire behaviour is escalating.

It’s too late to leave, leaving now will put your life in danger.

You need to shelter in your home in a room away from the fire front and make sure you can easily escape.


Black Friday shoppers warned to watch out for scammers impersonating big retailers

Victorian police are warning shoppers to be “vigilant and wary” of scammers impersonating well-known Australian retailers over the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale weekend.

As the associated sales heat up, police say the National Anti-Scam Centre has detected a significant increase in the number of reports of fraudulent websites that are “preying on local consumers”.

DS John Cheyne of the cybercrime squad said it was important to always check a website was secure:

An opportunistic scam like this one can end up hitting everyday Victorians where it really hurts, particularly those looking to get organised with their Christmas shopping during a cost-of-living crisis.

Scammers are creating websites which look almost identical to the genuine brand’s website, and they’re also paying for their sites to appear at the top of an internet search.


Hostage release essential if truce to last, Paterson says

Rewinding to Liberal MP James Paterson’s appearance on RN Breakfast this morning, wheN he said more needs to be done to free the hostages Hamas is holding in Gaza.

Yesterday a temporary ceasefire deal was agreed between Hamas and Israel that involves the exchange of 50 hostages for at least 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children.

Shadow minister for home affairs James Paterson
Shadow minister for home affairs James Paterson. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Here’s what Paterson had to say:

We don’t know how many of them are still alive, and their continued release would be essential for any continuing ceasefire because otherwise Israel continues to have a legitimate military objective.


Ceasefire ‘enormously significant’, Wong says

Next, Penny Wong is asked about the ceasefire agreed between Hamas and Israel:

Well, it will be enormously significant, won’t it, for the families of hostages who are returning. And I’m sure that that will be emotional and such a relief for those families who have members of their families returning after so many weeks held in captivity.

But obviously, we need more. We need all of the hostages released. We’ve been calling for humanitarian pauses for the protection of civilian lives. We know that any ceasefire cannot be one-sided. That’s why this progress on this is important.

But ultimately, what we do need is a political process to a resolution in the Middle East. We know that there will not be peace for Israel or Palestinians unless those steps are taken.


Temporary visas granted to Palestinians ‘via the normal process’

Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong says the more than 800 Palestinians granted temporary visas all applied “via the normal process”.

Wong was on ABC News Breakfast this morning and said the granting of the visas didn’t mean the applicants could leave Gaza, and that the Australian government was working to find solutions to get people out:

Some 1,800 people in Israel, and just over 800 people in Gaza, have been granted visas in accordance with normal processes. So these are people who have applied. They go through the usual security checks, the usual identity checks, the usual character checks, and have been granted visas.

What I would also say is this – obviously just because someone has an Australian visa does not mean that they are able to leave where they are. And there are many people in Gaza who we have been trying to assist. As you know, border crossings have not been opened fully.

And we spend weeks working with others to get some 127 Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families out of Gaza. So I would make the point, the grant of visas doesn’t mean that people will be able to leave. Obviously, the situation on the ground is still very difficult.


Immigration detention legislation had to be rushed, Coalition says

Opposition home affairs spokesperson James Paterson says there was “no alternative” the government had to rushing through legislation to monitor people released from indefinite immigration detention.

Speaking to RN Breakfast, Paterson said it wasn’t a mistake to rush through the legislation, even thought it is already being challenged in court:

No, there was no alternative but to rush it through, the alternative would be these people would be released into the community with no enforceable restrictions at all.

The initial visa conditions the government imposed upon them were not enforceable because the only consequence of breaching a visa was to be put into immigration detention, pending deportation.

And of course, the high court has found those people are not eligible for that because it constitutes indefinite detention.

So the choice was no restrictions in the community at all, or the best restrictions we can put in place, in a short period of time that we had.


‘We need to do better’ to reach renewables target, Bowen says

Federal energy minister Chris Bowen has said Australia is “doing well” against its target for 82% renewables by 2030 but “not well enough”.

Speaking to ABC Radio National this morning, Bowen said Australia “needs to do better” to hit its target:

We need to do better to reach that target. We’ve had some very good progress but we need more progress, after making up for a decade of delays.


Good morning

Mostafa Rachwani is now with you to take you through the day’s news.


‘Hope has to be a strategy,’ pioneering climate scientist says

“My first thought was: Tim [Flannery]’s been shot,” says Lesley Hughes in the second instalment of the Weight of the world series, in which we talk to some of Australia’s first climate change scientists about the personal toll of their pioneering work.

Hughes says she thought the carbon tax debate had become so toxic that when she heard a loud noise while on stage with Flannery, who was then chair of the Climate Commission, it might be an assassination attempt. Hughes emerged from that time battle weary but optimistic:

I’ve come to the conclusion that hope has to be a strategy. You have to use hope as a motivator to keep going.

Read her account here and also listen to the third instalment of our Weight of the world podcast in which Hughes is joined by her peers Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Graeme Pearman to look back on their life’s work. How does it feel to carry this burden of knowledge? Could they have done more? And what hope do they hold for the future?

Albanese presses for Middle East ceasefire at G20 virtual summit

Anthony Albanese has hailed steps toward a ceasefire in the Middle East during a G20 virtual summit, AAP reports.

Israel’s government and Hamas have agreed to a truce for at least four days to allow aid into the Gaza Strip and the release of at least 50 hostages captured by militants in exchange for at least 150 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

Narendra Modi at the centre of other leaders on screens
Narendra Modi hosts the virtual G20 summit Photograph: India Press Information Bureau /EPA

Australia was “deeply concerned by the conflict in the Middle East”, Albanese said during his opening remarks to the online meeting hosted by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi:

Australia has consistently called for the release of hostages, for humanitarian access and for the protection of civilian lives.

We have wanted to see the next steps towards a sustainable ceasefire which cannot be one-sided.

Other speakers included Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must end,” Albanese also said, lamenting the “adverse impacts of wars and conflicts around the world”.


Out-of-control bushfire rages in Perth's northern suburbs

Residents in Perth have been warned that it is too late to leave their homes as a fast-moving out-of-control bushfire spreads in two northern suburbs, Australian Associated Press reports.

An emergency warning was issued yesterday for parts of Melaleuca and Jandabup in Wanneroo, about 36km north of the city centre,

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said:

It’s too late to leave for people east of Hawkins Road. You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive.

The fire started near the intersection of Boundary and Bustard roads in Mariginiup. It was moving fast in a westerly direction and was not contained or controlled. Emergency services said:

You need to shelter in your home in a room away from the fire front and make sure you can easily escape. You must shelter before the fire arrives, as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you.

Another bushfire in Perth’s south has been downgraded but nearby residents have been warned to remain alert.

Western Australia is experiencing a spike in temperatures, with the mercury topping 37C yesterday and forecast to hit 40C today.

No relief from the heat is expected before Monday.


Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be bringing you the best of our overnight and breaaking news stories before handing the news baton to my colleague Mostafa Rachwani.

Despite rate hikes and gloomy consumer sentiment, house prices across Australia have risen 8.1% since their slump in January. They have been driven by growth to record highs in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, according to Corelogic, although the data firm sees the pace of price increases falling off as interest rates remain high, as indicated last night by Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock. She said in a speech in Sydney that the bank was braced for a “challenging” year ahead as it confronts “homegrown” price pressures which will keep inflation above the norm and force interest rates to remain higher for longer.

High property prices are also a factor in a fascinating report today by our data expert Josh Nicholas looking how demographic change is affecting political attitudes in Australia. Voting trends show younger people are much less likely to vote for the Coalition compared with past generations, with millennials more likely to have a degree, be less religious, identify as LGBTQ+ and not have kids. Crucially they are also struggling to become homeowners. As political scientist Prof Ian McAllister says, this is “a fundamental change in society, which is going to significantly affect politics over the next 20, 30 years”.

Australia’s 100 wealthiest schools had a combined income of $4.8bn in 2021, data reveals, as calls grow for the federal government to reduce inequality in the education system.

And a fast-moving bushfire was threatening homes in Perth’s northern suburbs overnight – we’ll have the latest on that for you soon.

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