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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Natasha May (now) and Elias Visontay, Rafqa Touma and Mostafa Rachwani (earlier)

O’Neil accuses Dutton of politicising national security on visas for Israel-Palestine conflict: as it happened

Opposition leader Peter Dutton and home affairs minister Clare O’Neil at Parliament House in Canberra
Opposition leader Peter Dutton and home affairs minister Clare O’Neil at Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

What happened Friday 24 November, 2023

With that, we’ll wrap up our live coverage of the day’s news.

Here’s a summary of the day’s key developments:

Thanks for reading.

Brisbane’s Gabba to be demolished in 2025

The Gabba will be demolished in 2025 ahead of a rebuild that will see it become the centrepiece of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics as part of a $2.7bn project.

Queensland’s deputy premier, Steven Miles, on Friday unveiled the state’s vision for the surrounding precinct, which could be rebranded East Bank, after accepting a project validation report for the iconic stadium.

Demolition work is set to start after the Ashes Test in 2025, 130 years after the Brisbane sporting venue was first established.

Three new pedestrian bridges will be constructed over adjoining roads as part of Queensland’s biggest urban renewal since 1988’s Expo, with retail, dining, housing and open space to also feature.

Read more:


Ex-Labor MP sentenced to further 20 years for sexually abusing minors and supplying drugs

Ex-NSW Labor politician Milton Orkopoulos used drugs, money and his position of trust in the community to sexually assault vulnerable young boys.

The now-66-year-old will spend another decade behind bars after being found guilty in April on 26 charges involving sexually abusing and supplying drugs to four minors between 1993 and 2003.

He was sentenced on Friday to a further 20 years in jail for the offences, which include 11 counts of sexual intercourse with a person aged under 16.

Orkopoulos sexually touched the boys, then aged between 10 and 13, and forced them to have anal and oral sex with him, leaving them ashamed, fearful and suffering lifelong psychological impacts.

He is already serving a near 14-year sentence for a string of other sex crimes against young boys, for which he was convicted in 2008. He continues to deny any guilt.

Read more:


The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (Afca) has welcomed today’s announcement of a scams prevention accord by Australian banks.

Afca’s chief executive officer and chief ombudsman, David Locke, said:

We have been calling for stronger action and for a consistent approach across the banking sector to prevent scams, and we welcome these positive steps announced today.

When we talk about scams, we are really talking about serious organised crime, often conducted by international syndicates using sophisticated methods of deception and fraud.

We are all being required to use digital banking, so the banks must ensure that their products and services are safe and that consumers are protected. Anyone can fall victim to these scams.

Afca is receiving about 1,000 scam cases a month, with 6,048 across the 2022–23 financial year, a 46% increase on the previous year.

In the first quarter of the new 2023–24 financial year, it received 2,856 scam-related complaints, up 57% from 1,819 in the previous three months and 125% higher than the same period a year earlier. The sums lost in these cases can exceed $1 million.

Other initiatives such as greater sharing of real-time intelligence, delays and friction in the banking system to frustrate fraud and restrictions on high-risk transfers, are also welcome, he said.


‘Blank cheque’, a licence to print money, or somewhere in between?

Energy ministers are currently meeting in Perth, with the expanded capacity investment scheme high on the agenda (along with perhaps 17 other items).

We discussed some of the outstanding issues of Chris Bowen’s grand new plan to set auctions up to drive 32 gigawatts of new solar, wind and storage projects into the grid here:

Just how state-owned entities (including Snowy Hydro) will work with or against private firms remains to be seen, as will be the carrots the federal government can lay out to get states like New South Wales to clear planning delays.

Certain media outlets said taxpayers could be up for billions of dollars, while opposition spokesperson Ted O’Brien said Bowen had written a “blank cheque” on the taxpayers’ behalf.

To be fair, the cost is still to be determined, so it is “blank” in that sense. However, the way tenders will work – including setting a ceiling and a floor price – could turn the scheme into an earner for the government.

The ACT pioneered so-called reverse auctions in Australia. The present average price is $86.52 a megawatt-hour, with the average to fall to $81.58/MWh when the Goyder windfarm begins operations in April 2024, the government told Guardian Australia.

During periods of relatively low wholesale power prices, the ACT forks out money. When prices exceed a certain point, they receive revenue.

The latter is the present condition, with the ACT to distribute $68.5m to consumers this fiscal year. A typical household consuming 6,500 kilowatt-hours a year will get a (pre-GST) rebate of about $148. A business customer consuming 25,000 kWh a year can expect a rebate of about $570 (excluding GST).

So, it all hinges on the tender price and the range of the “collar” between the floor and the ceiling.

Developers, though, enjoy more certainty and hence, can raise funds more cheaply and bid at lower prices. (And future governments can’t rip up the deals either.)


Home affairs minister says Peter Dutton using national security ‘for his own political ends’

The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, has accused Peter Dutton of politicising national security issues including the granting of visas for people in the Israel–Palestine conflict and the apparent arrival of a boat in remote Western Australia, with 12 people in Australian Border Force custody at Truscott airbase.

O’Neil said:

National security is the first priority of our government. As security agencies have repeatedly warned, inflammatory language has a direct link to increased risk of violence. Everyone in our parliament needs to consider the impact that their language will have.

Our government is careful and deliberate about how we discuss national security issues and especially operational matters. No political objective should ever come before the security of our country and the integrity of the operations and agencies that protect us every day.

Whether it’s the conflict in the Middle East, tensions at home, Operation Sovereign Borders or even the highly sensitive security operations involved in individuals returning from conflict, there’s nothing Peter Dutton won’t use for his own political ends.

Peter Dutton is a reckless politician who will do and say anything to score political points – even if it puts the national security of Australians at risk.


Virgin Australia to increase Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet

Virgin Australia has ordered an extra six Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, on top of eight it was already due to receive, as the airline continues to anchor its growth on fuel efficient fleet.

Virgin made the announcement as it took delivery of its third Max 8 in Brisbane on Friday, with the remaining 11 on order expected next year. Delivery will be staggered at approximately one aircraft per month in 2024.

The new Max 8s will enter domestic and the few short-haul international routes that Virgin has resumed – including Fiji, Bali and Samoa – since its pandemic-induced restructure.

Virgin said the Max 8s will reduce emissions by at least 15% per flight compared to older generation 737s, and will help the airline achieve its 2030 ambition of reducing carbon emissions intensity by 22% and its commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.

The Max 8, which is also significantly quieter than existing 737s, has been the subject of repeated controversies. Manufacturer Boeing is still recovering from the biggest crisis in its history after two deadly crashes forced the grounding of its entire 737 Max fleet.

The crashes were caused by faulty sensors and design flaws, which aviation regulators are now satisfied have been rectified and the aircraft are safe to fly.

Alistair Hartley, Virgin Australia chief strategy and transformation officer, said: “We are investing in our fleet to best meet our customers’ needs while positioning the business for success in the long-term. A more modern, sustainable, and streamlined fleet is central to our ongoing transformation.”

The investment in a fuel efficient fleet comes ahead of an expectation that private owners Bain Capital will attempt Virgin’s initial public offering – to relist it on the stock exchange – in 2024.

Virgin Australia planes are parked at terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Virgin Australia will cut about 3000 jobs as the airline struggles with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Virgin Australia said a ‘more modern, sustainable, and streamlined fleet’ is central to their transformation. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP


Most disabled women reluctant to report domestic violence to police, report says

Women living with disabilities are almost twice as likely to experience domestic violence than those without, but most will not seek help.

A report from People with Disability Australia found 57% of women with disabilities had avoided reaching out for support because of negative past experiences when they had their concerns dismissed, faced discrimination or experienced further harm.

Every single woman interviewed did not trust services and authorities, and 71% said they would avoid reporting incidents of family or domestic violence to police in the future.

One interviewee recalled her mother’s experience with family violence, as a woman with a disability.

“My mum actually ended up being institutionalised in a psychiatric institution – she couldn’t access the help that she needed,” she said.

“So that taught me as a young person – what’s the point in reaching out?”

Many respondents said they were scared their children would be taken away if they sought support, such as one woman who uses a wheelchair.

Living with a disability can also be very expensive, so many women who experience financial abuse also avoid seeking help because they do not believe they can support themselves.



Thanks to my colleague Rafqa for bringing us through this afternoon’s news so far.

You now have Elias Visontay to take you through the news from here.


Chalmers acknowledges changes to infrastructure funding 'contentious'

Over in Brisbane, treasurer Jim Chalmers is appearing at the Future Brisbane summit, where he has acknowledged the federal government’s recent changes to priorities in its $120bn infrastructure pipeline are “contentious”.

Earlier this month, infrastructure minister Catherine King announced 50 high-risk infrastructure projects across the country would be defunded with the projected $7bn in savings put toward other “nation-building” projects.

State premiers have strongly criticised the announcement and are expected to raise the issues at the national cabinet meeting in early December.

Chalmers on Friday said it was “contentious” but flagged there’ll be new announcements in the future, depending on what the government “can afford to build”.

Our job is to manage the budget in the most responsible way, to build the best infrastructure we can – as quick as we can. Part of that means being upfront with people about what’s possible.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers arrives for question time in the House of Representatives
Jim Chalmers flagged new infrastructure announcements based on what the government “can afford to build”. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Prisoner still on run in north Queensland after two escapees found

A prisoner is still on the run in north Queensland but police have been able to locate two escapees, days after they left a Townsville prison.

Authorities had been searching for Trent Darby Ryan, Daimien Gary Richard Izzard and Dallas Wayne Quakawoot since Wednesday after they could not be located at the low-security Townsville Correctional Centre.

Police said Ryan, 34, and Quakawoot, 22, were located by a dog squad at 2.30am on Friday after the pair abandoned a stolen car in Townsville suburb Railway Estate, about 10km away from the prison.

They were arrested without incident and are back in custody, police said.

They have been charged with escape lawful custody and other property related offences.

The two men are set to appear in Townsville magistrates court on Friday.

However, Izzard, 28, remains at large.

Queensland Correctional Services said Ryan was serving one year and three months for assault occasioning bodily harm while Quakawoot had received four years and three months for armed robbery.

Izzard is serving two and a half years for driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

The trio’s escape marked the second in a month at the north Queensland correctional facility after two men fled in late October.

They were arrested and returned to custody within two days.

Australian Associated Press


Families earning $80k or less could get free childcare

Low-income families could receive free childcare if the federal government accepts the key recommendations of a major report.

The Productivity Commission has been tasked with charting a course towards universal early childhood education and care.

In a set of draft recommendations, it has urged the government to modify childcare subsidies and increase access for children from all backgrounds.

Families would be able to access up to three days of subsidised care a week, regardless of how many hours they worked.

Households with an annual income of $80,000 or less would be eligible for a 100% subsidy.

The changes would cost about $2.5bn a year.

The commission also recommended measures to expand the childcare workforce.

- Australian Associated Press


Another look at the Sydney school students’ strike to rally for Palestine.

Students with a banner saying 'stop the war' at the School Strike for Palestine in Sydney
Students walk out of school to demand an end to what they describe as “a genocide being committed in Gaza”. Photograph: Richard Milnes/Shutterstock
People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration
People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


Sydney students rally in support of Palestine

Here are some images coming out of the Sydney school students’ strike to rally in support of Palestine at Town Hall.

People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration in Sydney, Friday 24 November, 2023
People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration in Sydney, Friday 24 November, 2023. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration in Sydney, Friday 24 November, 2023
People attend a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration in Sydney. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
A man with an Israeli flag is spoken to by police as he attends a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration, in Sydney.
A man with an Israeli flag is spoken to by police as he attends a rally during a High Schoolers For Palestine demonstration in Sydney. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


Mostafa Rachwani will be bringing us updates from school students’ strike to rally for Palestine at Sydney’s Town Hall today.

Students are “proudly declaring they’ve been ‘marked absent today’ to attend”.


Bruce Lehrmann denies he was trying to get Brittany Higgins drunk in Canberra pub

Bruce Lehrmann has apologised for telling the federal court he did not buy Brittany Higgins any drinks after CCTV footage was played showing him handing over a card to buy her two drinks, but he has denied trying to get her drunk.

The former Liberal staffer was asked by Ten’s barrister Matt Collins KC if he was trying to get Higgins drunk after footage of her was played to the court showing she had consumed six spirit-based drinks in a Canberra pub.

Lehrmann could not explain to the court why there is no record of a third credit card he used to buy those drinks. He maintains he only had two cards, but couldn’t reconcile the amount the drinks would have cost compared to what was on his card statements that he gave to the AFP.

Collins asked Lehrmann: “Do you agree that we’ve just seen you and Ms Higgins returning to the courtyard area from the bar area, each of you carrying a spirits-based drink with a vodkas?”

Lehrmann replied: “I can’t recall what type of [drink]” and he said he paid for them with a card “but I can’t explain beyond that”.

Lehrmann denied telling Higgins to “drink that all now” in a clip which showed him pointing to the glass of alcohol on the table.

Collins suggested he told Higgins to finish her drink before they left.

Lehrmann rejected the suggestion by Collins that he had amassed three drinks in front of Higgins and said “all hers, all hers”.


Gabba to be demolished in 2025

The Queensland government has announced it’s considering renaming a large chunk of the suburb of Woolloongabba as part of plans for an upgrade of the Gabba cricket ground.

Deputy premier and planning minister Stephen Miles announced on Friday the stadium will be knocked down in 2025, as part of a controversial plan for a new venue for the Olympics.

The new stadium will be at the centre of a revitalised residential and commercial precinct, which will include 880 new apartments, three new pedestrian bridges, and expanded retail and dining options.

Miles also raised the idea of renaming the area “East Bank”, similar to South Bank, an inner-city recreational area on the Brisbane River that was converted from an industrial site.

This isn’t just about a stadium upgrade. This is about anchoring an urban renewal project that will see Woolloongabba transformed like South Bank was transformed for Expo 88.

Woolloongabba is an Aboriginal word which translates to “fight talk place”. The urban renewal precinct covers much of Woolloongabba, according to Miles. The Gabba stadium is named after the suburb.

The new Gabba stadium will have better sightlines for spectators, larger concourses, improved change rooms and 50,000 seats, up from 36,000.

Reference Design Report for an upgrade of the Gabba cricket ground in QLD, Australia
Reference Design Report for an upgrade of the Gabba cricket ground in QLD, Australia Photograph: QLD government

“The Woolloongabba redevelopment, along with Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro, will anchor a major redevelopment of Woolloongabba to maximise the benefit of public investment and deliver more housing including social and affordable housing, more jobs, and better connectivity,” he says.

We’re going for the best bang-for-buck and giving Queenslanders a new, modern stadium with all the finishes, because it is the best value for money, and it will deliver much more than a stadium.

Community consultation on the priority development area opens today. Design and procurement of the Gabba rebuild will take place next year.

Miles says construction on the new Gabba will finish by 2030, well ahead of the 2032 games.


Woman accused of love triangle murder plot to be extradited

A former academic accused of being at the centre of an alleged murder plot that left her ex-partner a tetraplegic and her lover with a gunshot wound will be extradited to South Australia.

Lisa Margaret Lines did not appear in a Brisbane court on Friday when a magistrate agreed to an unopposed extradition application.

The 43-year-old was represented by a duty lawyer who agreed the extradition was by consent, with Lines accepting she is the person on an arrest warrant.

Former academic Lisa Lines is being extradited from Brisbane to Adelaide, charged with the attempted murder.
Former academic Lisa Lines is being extradited from Brisbane to Adelaide, charged with the attempted murder. Photograph: Capstone Editing

The court heard Lines has no criminal history in Queensland.

The application was to transfer her to South Australia for a court appearance on Monday.

Lines was taken into custody at Brisbane Airport by Queensland homicide detectives on Thursday on her arrival in Australia.

The historian – a respected expert on the Spanish Civil War – was arrested on the island nation of Palau earlier this month.

Documents before Brisbane magistrates court list her address as Xinidian District, New Taipei City, Taiwan, occupation as editor and place of birth as Woodville, South Australia.

The arrest relates to a convoluted series of events that began with a violent incident in the Adelaide Hills in October 2017.

She is charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of conspiracy to murder.

- Australian Associated Press reports


ABC House Committee concerned trust between journalists and sources 'jeopardised' after WA activists charged

The ABC House Committee is concerned trust between ABC journalists and their sources may be “jeopardised”, after reports that footage handed to the police by the national broadcaster “may have helped lay charges” against activists who featured in a Four Corners story.

The statement comes after Disrupt Burrup activists were charged yesterday in relation to a planned protest outside the Perth home of Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill.

The ABC MEAA House Committee is concerned about reports that ABC footage handed to the police may have helped lay charges against three activists who featured in a Four Corners story. This is the risk media organisations face when handing over raw footage to police. We are concerned this may jeopardise future relationships and trust between ABC journalists and their sources. The ABC MEAA House Committee is also very concerned about the far-reaching laws in WA that undermine journalists’ ability to make necessary promises to people with whom they work.


Equality advocates divided about delay of NSW ban of ‘gay conversion practices’

A decision to delay the introduction of a NSW ban on so-called gay conversion practices has received mixed responses from equality advocates, AAP reports.

The NSW government had promised to introduce laws to outlaw conversion practices by the end of the year.

A protester at a rally on City Road, Sydney holds a sign saying 'End LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy' with an image of the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet holding a cross.
Equality advocates marched in Sydney in February for a ban on so-called gay conversion therapy. Photograph: Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock

But following requests to conduct further consultation with survivors, the government will delay the introduction of a proposed bill until early 2024.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich wrote to the premier, Chris Minns, seeking more time for consultation before the laws were introduced.

“Reform is urgent but needs to be done carefully,” he says.

Any legislation will need the review and support of survivors of these harmful practices. I’m working well with the Minns government on this legislation and other long overdue LGBTQI reforms in my equality bill and it’s my hope and intention we will achieve significant progress early in 2024.

But Equality Australia says it is disappointed by the government’s delay.

“The NSW government must deliver legislation that prevents the psychological damage and trauma that conversion practices cause, in whichever settings they occur,” legal director Ghassan Kassisieh said on Friday.

Minns says his government intends to fulfil the commitment to ban LGBTQ+ conversion practices.

It’s clear though that we need more time and more consultation and I want to get this right.


Thank you to Mostafa Rachwani for rolling today’s live blog.

I’ll be with you for the next few hours. If there is anything you don’t want us to miss, shoot it my way @At_Raf_

ABC makes statement about discontinuation of defamation case brought by Lehrmann

The ABC has published a statement about the discontinuation of the defamation case brought by Bruce Lehrmann against the public broadcaster, saying the ABC notes that a criminal charge of sexual assault against him was dropped.

“On 9 February 2022, the ABC published a National Press Club of Australia address by Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame,” a statement on its website published on Friday said.

Bruce Lehrmann commenced defamation proceedings against the ABC, claiming that the broadcast of the National Press Club of Australia address accused him of sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins. These proceedings were settled on terms satisfactory to Mr Lehrmann and the ABC including discontinuance of the proceedings. The ABC notes that a criminal charge of sexual assault brought against Mr Lehrmann in the ACT was later dropped. The ABC does not suggest that he was guilty of that charge.

The ABC’s case was discontinued out of court on Wednesday before the trial began.


Queensland gives Star Entertainment a licence suspension reprieve

The Queensland government has given Star Entertainment a reprieve for a licence ban after the firm was found unfit to hold the licences for its casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The company was found to have deliberately misled the regulator and failed to adhere to anti-money laundering rules last year.

It was was fined $100m and given until 1 December, 2023 to develop a remediation strategy, or else have both licences suspended for 90 days.

On Friday, attorney general Yvette D’Ath extended the deadline until 31 May, 2024. She says a $200m plan developed by Star had been approved.

“Assessment of progress will inform future decisions about applying the suspensions,” a Queensland government statement says.

A 12-month extension has also been given to special manager Nicholas Weeks, who was installed to oversee the operations overhaul at the Gold Coast and Brisbane casinos.

Mr Weeks, manager assisting Terri Hamilton and their team will monitor the plan’s implementation while Star “proves its commitment and ability to remediate and return to suitability”.

D’Ath said she could have completely rescinded the suspended licence, but chose to defer it instead “because there is much more work to do”.

If Star fails to comply with the plan it would face further fines of up to $5m.

“Today’s announcement strikes the right balance between making sure The Star operates lawfully, ethically and in a way that enhances integrity, while also prioritising public confidence and local jobs,” the attorney general says.

“The government remains committed to casino reform to address the significant failings identified in the Gotterson review and the findings of the many inquiries into casino operations across the country.”

Star’s new $3.6bn Queens Wharf casino in Brisbane is expected to open in the first half of 2024.


Giant red pumpkin sculpture by Japan’s Kusama unveiled on Mornington Peninsula

Australia’s first big polka dot pumpkin by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has been unveiled at Pt. Leo Estate on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, AAP reports.

The three-metre-wide red and black gourd has been installed with a view of the sea, its design a famed example of the globally renowned artist’s work.

A giant yellow and black polka dotted pumpkin sculpture in a coastal location in Japan.
Mornington Peninsula now has a red version of the artist’s giant yellow pumpkin that was damaged by a typhoon in Japan in 2021. Photograph: Nuala Mahon/Alamy

“I am very pleased to showcase my work in such a wonderful place,” the artist says in a statement.

“The magical fusion of nature and my work is something special that can only be seen in each location.”

The Pt. Leo Estate features more than 50 sculptures from around the world, with the pumpkin joining a collection of artworks by the likes of KAWS, Jaume Plensa and Australians Inge King and Clement Meadmore.

Born in 1929, Kusama has become one of the world’s most successful artists, influencing her contemporaries Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg during the 1960s.

The dots reference her childhood, when she lived on a small farm and became lost in a field of flowers, which began to speak to her, the flower heads resembling dots that became her globally-recognised motif.

“A polka dot has the form of the sun … a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm,” she said.

Japan’s food supplies were disrupted during World War II, and the Kusama family’s storehouse was full of pumpkins, which she ate until she was sick of them.

The artist has painted their organic and irregular shapes for years.

A much-loved yellow and black pumpkin sculpture, installed at the end of a pier on Japan’s Naoshima art island, made global headlines when it was washed out to sea during a typhoon in 2021.

The Mornington Peninsula artwork is open to visitors from Saturday.


Lehrmann tells court he’d had concerns about ACT criminal trial

Bruce Lehrmann has told the federal court he has “serious concerns” about his criminal trial, which was aborted last year.

Lehrmann said he didn’t pay much attention to the summing up of the criminal case held in the ACT because of those concerns.

In December prosecutors dropped charges against Lehrmann for the alleged rape of his former colleague Brittany Higgins, saying a retrial would pose an “unacceptable risk” to her health.

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

Journalist Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney as the trial continues in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation cases against Network Ten.
Journalist Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney as the trial continues in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation cases against Network Ten. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Network Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC is continuing his cross-examination of Lehrmann over the events of the day the alleged offence took place in 2019 when he and Higgins worked for Senator Linda Reynolds.

Justice Michael Lee gave Lehrmann a short break from the witness box after he said his mind went blank and he couldn’t answer questions.

The former Liberal staffer had admitted telling three different stories – including two false accounts – about the reason for his after-hours visit to Parliament House.

“Do you recollect the chief justice [Lucy McCallum] relating to the jury questions that were put to you by the Australian Federal Police on the question of whether there was alcohol in your office?” Collins asked.

Lehrmann replied: “Not specifically, no.”

It is day three of his defamation trial against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson in the federal court.


Victoria not getting a four-day work week any time soon, Premier Allan says

Victoria’s premier, Jacinta Allan, says she has no plan to introduce a four-day work week to the public sector.

The Community and Public Sector Union has made a formal pilot program for a reduced-hours, four-day work week across various worksites a key part of its enterprise bargaining negotiations with the government.

But speaking in Bendigo on Friday, Allan shut down the idea:

There are no plans from the government to introduce across the public sector a four day working week and we’ll continue to negotiate with the public sector union.


Taylor Swift tickets remain elusive for some as wait times grow, prices soar

It appears Taylor Swift fans have once again faced hurdles getting to see her enormously popular Eras Tour.

Fans have taken to X to express their frustrations at wait times and skyrocketing prices, something that has been an ongoing issue for many attempting to source the coveted tickets.


Don’t dream it’s over … because the house is never too crowded for another TV reboot

A song by Australian band Crowded House that hit the US charts 35 years ago has topped Billboard’s Top TV songs chart, thanks to the reboot of a television series even older.

Neil Finn of Crowded House performs with the band after being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame during the 30th ARIA Awards, at The Star, in Sydney.
Crowded House frontman Neil Finn wrote the big hit nearly 40 years ago, which has been given new life by US crime drama Magnum P.I. Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP

Don’t Dream It’s Over, written by Kiwi frontman Neil Finn and appearing on Crowded House’s 1986 self-titled debut album, was the band’s biggest international hit, making the top 10 in Australian, European and US markets and reaching number one in Canada and New Zealand. More than three decades later the song has topped Billboard’s TV songs chart for October this year, after it was played during an episode of Magnum PI , a remake of the action series that first appeared on American TV in 1980.

After Don’t Dream It’s Over played on NBC on 25 October, it accrued 4.6m official on-demand US streams and 1,000 downloads, according to Billboard.
Reignited interest in the song mirrors the surprise success of another 1980s hit gaining a second life thanks to television. Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, released in 1985, topped the TV songs chart for October 2022, after being played on Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things.


Drs, nurses and climate activists to blockade world’s largest coal port, Newcastle, this weekend

Health professionals will be joining climate activists this weekend at the People’s Blockade of Newcastle coal port. They intend to spend 30 hours in canoes on the water, blocking shore access to all coal-carrying ships to the world’s largest coal port, as part of ongoing climate protests there.

A stacker/reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle.
Medical professionals are so worried about the health risks linked to coal they plan to join climate protestors blockading Newcastle port, this weekend. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

The group, which includes representatives of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and Health on the Frontline (HOFL), will include public health and medical specialists, general practitioners, surgeons, nurses and allied health professionals, from around the country.

Public Health Professor, Dr Linda Selvey said part of the reason for their contribution to the protest action was the health risks associated with coal:

Coal is dangerous for human health. Burning fossil fuels is driving climate change and climate change is a health emergency. We need to respond as we would in any emergency, and we are not.

Retired public health professor, Dr Peter Sainsbury, said climate change “exceeds any public health threat” he has seen in his long medical career:

Climate change far exceeds any public health threat that I have seen in my 40 years as a public health doctor. We are running out of time to avert catastrophe. We need to act, in line with the science, immediately.

Both DEA and HOFL said in a statement they support the right to peaceful protest.


Man arrested after police stand-off closes NSW north coast highway

NSW Police have charged a man after a police operation closed several roads in the state’s north yesterday.

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

At about 2pm, a 45-year-old man was taken into custody by officers from the Tactical Operations Unit.

He was taken to Lismore Base Hospital for assessment before being taken to Lismore police station.

There he was charged with use carriage service to make hoax threat, give false information person/property in danger, and possess prohibited drug.

A further charge of contravene prohibition/restriction in AVO was laid in relation to a separate incident.

He was refused bail to appear before Lismore Local Court later today.


Third day of Network Ten defamation case sees Lehrmann back in witness box

Bruce Lehrmann returns to the witness box this morning on day three of his defamation trial against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson in the federal court.

The court heard Lehrmann was fired by Senator Linda Reynolds for serious misconduct after a security breach involving confidential documents, as well as the security breach involving an after-hours visit with former colleague Brittany Higgins. Higgins alleges she was raped by Lehrmann on Reynolds’ couch, an accusation Lehrmann denies.

Lehrmann’s barrister said in his opening address his client had been publicly maligned as a rapist and he was seeking vindication and compensation.

Ten’s barrister Matt Collins KC asked Lehrmann why he described a serious security incident as a “very brief minor incident about security”.

“Do you remember giving that evidence?’’ Collins said on Thursday.

“This wasn’t a minor incident about security, was it?”

Lehrmann replied: “Well, no.”

Collins asked: “Well, why did you choose only yesterday to say it was a very brief, minor incident about security when the true position is it was one of the grounds for your termination for serious misconduct?’’

Lehrmann replied: “Well, I still do not consider it a major security breach”.

Lehrmann is yet to face Wilkinson’s silk Sue Chrysanthou.


Marketplace tickets to Taylor Swift go on sale

And for those who are keen (I’m sure there are many of you), marketplace tickets to the extremely popular Australian leg of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour are set to go on sale in the next 10 minutes.

Taylor Swift performing on stage.
At least fans won’t have to queue in the heat and rain for the next leg of the US singer-songwriter’s Eras Tour. Photograph: Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images

It’s important to note these are not new tickets, but the Ticketek Marketplace, a place for people to sell tickets they don’t want.


Victoria police arrest man over alleged Melbourne post office burglaries

Victoria police have arrested a man following a series of alleged burglaries at post offices in Melbourne’s west.

Police allege almost $10,000 worth of parcels were stolen over the past three months.

Detectives from Wyndham crime investigation unit last Monday executed four warrants across the west, after two post offices in Werribee and Point Cook were allegedly broken into five times between September and October this year.

A 30-year-old man was arrested during a search of his Werribee property and subsequently charged with five counts of burglary and possessing a drug of dependence.

The Werribee man was remanded to appear before Sunshine magistrates court on 7 December.


Banks to change transaction system in $100m push to beat scammers

Australian banks have joined forces to launch a new Scam-Safe accord, which will include a $100m investment by the industry in a new confirmation of payee system to be rolled out across all Australian banks.

Confirmation of payee will help reduce scams by ensuring people can confirm they are transferring money to the person they intend to. Customers should expect more warnings and delays when paying someone new or increasing payment limits.

With 15.4bn transactions worth $2.5tn occurring every year across the banking sector, the design and build of an industry-wide confirmation of payee system is a major undertaking. Design of the new system will start straight away and it will be built and rolled out over 2024 and 2025.

In addition, the Scam-Safe accord includes a major expansion of intelligence sharing across the sector with all banks acting on scams intelligence from the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange by mid-2024, and joining the Fraud Reporting Exchange. This means critical information is shared across the banking sector at speed about scam transactions, improving the chances of preventing scams and recovering stolen funds.

The Australian Banking Association chief executive, Anna Bligh, said:

This Scam-Safe accord is a new offensive in the war on scams. It reflects the banking sector’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding every Australian. It outlines the actions every bank will take to protect Australian consumers and small businesses and to harden the system against scams.


Student striker says protest is for ‘the children of Gaza’

One of the speakers at today’s School Strike for Palestine has told AAP she is attending to use her voice for “the children of Gaza.”

Year 12 student Jaseena said the strike was about solidarity with the students of Gaza unable to attend school:

I want to use my voice for those children in Gaza who are not able to pursue their education and whose basic human rights have been stolen from them.

Melbourne school students, holding banners in support of Palestine, march through the city's streets.
Sydney school students are due to march today in support of Palestine, following Thursday’s student protest held in Melbourne’s CBD.
Photograph: Alex Zucco/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

In a Facebook event listing, organisers urged students to “bring your friends and classmates and show that business as usual can’t continue while there is a genocide being committed in Gaza”.

“We’ll be walking out of school to demand an end to the bombing of Gaza, an end to the siege and an end to the occupation,” the group said.

Speakers at the Sydney Town Hall event will include striking high school students, the National Union of Students education officer and Palestinian and Jewish critics of Israel.


Out-of-control Perth bushfires show no sign of easing

A bushfire emergency warning has been issued to areas in Wanneroo and Swann, as an out of control fire continues to rage in the area.

Authorities are warning residents bounded by Coogee Road, Bustard Road, Silver Road, Galah Road, Hawkins Road, Trichet Road, High Road, Scott Road, Belgrade Road, Franklin Road, Caporn Street, Pinjar Road, Da Vinci Park and Mornington Drive in Jandabup, Melalecu, Wanneroo and Mariginiup to leave now if the way is clear.

The emergency warning urges residents to act as soon as possible, adding that there is a threat to lives and homes. It comes as authorities warn strong winds and high temperatures mean it could be days before crews bring the fires under control after they ripped through semi-rural properties and threatened other homes on Thursday.

A firefighting helicopter attempts to control a blaze bordering the suburbs of Wanneroo, Singara and Jandabup in Perth.
A firefighting helicopter attempts to control a blaze bordering the suburbs of Wanneroo, Singara and Jandabup in Perth. Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP

More than 150 firefighters worked through Wednesday night to save homes as the massive blaze forced hundreds of families to leave as embers rained down.

Teams worked on Thursday to assess damage to properties so evacuated residents could be informed, with fears more destroyed homes would be found.

The emergency services minister, Stephen Dawson, told AAP a huge amount of firefighting resources, including multiple water bombers, were being used to battle the blaze.

“This is a significant fire ... this will be a long-running incident and could take some time before the fire is brought under control given the situation we find ourselves in in terms of the wind and high temperatures,” he said.

A number of firefighters have suffered smoke inhalation and minor injuries and one crew was involved in a “burn-over” incident while in a truck.

After peaking at 39C on Thursday, the temperature is set to ease to 35C on Friday and Saturday before rising to 37C on Sunday.


Burney says she has no regrets about referendum campaign strategy

Burney has continued, saying she has no regrets on how she and the government approached the referendum.

I’m not a person who spends a lot of time looking at the entrails of things.

I’m more interested in going forward … we’ve been on this merry go round before. Sixty-five thousand years is a pretty long time and I don’t think that’s going to stop any time soon.

Burney also said she expected to remain in her portfolio:

I guess there’s a lot of speculation, post-referendum. But if ever anyone thinks that the Aboriginal affairs portfolio was just about the referendum, they are very, very wrong.


Linda Burney says government still deciding way forward after Indigenous voice loss

The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, has said the government is yet to decide how to best consult with First Nations people after the loss of the Indigenous voice referendum.

Burney was on RN Breakfast earlier and said today’s Closing the Gap meeting, the first since the referendum, would focus on the silver linings from the loss.

She also conceded that a tangible plan likely won’t emerge from the meeting today, with a long-term re-evaluation of Indigenous policy necessary to address Closing the Gap targets:

What we have seen is a group of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get involved in the political process.

We had 6 million Australians say yes. And the thing that really excited me about the outcome in places like the Tiwi Islands, where … Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanted this change. And those votes are really important.

But clearly, we need to pursue that in the long run. Today’s meeting is about helping to frame up where we go but, most importantly, it’s about looking at the issues in Closing the Gap.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney.
The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Labor tells students to stay in school

Sticking with the School Strike, education minister Jason Clare has again pleaded with students to remain in class today.

Clearly believing teenagers respond well to being told what to do, Clare told Channel Seven’s Sunrise that children should stay in school if they want to “change the world.”

Education is the most powerful cause for good in this world, that is where you learn.

If you want to protest, do it on the weekend. School is on, we expect them to be there.


Dai Le says it’s ‘OK’ to miss a day of school due to protest

Before the School Strike for Palestine planned today in Sydney and Wollongong, independent MP Dai Le says it’s “OK” to miss a day of school.

The western Sydney MP told the Today show young people have the right to express their opinion:

They believe they don’t have a voice at all in our elected representatives.

I think that absolutely they should be at school but children have the right to express their opinions and they’re at an age now where they can have that say.

Missing out on one day of school probably will be OK from my perspective.


Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you this morning, to take you through the day’s news.

Students prepare to walk out of class to support Palestine

Hundreds of school students are preparing to miss class to show support for Palestine as part of nationwide events, AAP reports.

The organisers of High Schoolers For Palestine are encouraging students to walk out of class across Sydney, Wollongong and Byron Bay to show support for the Palestinian cause.

Year 12 student and rally organiser Eva said attendees had a moral duty to show solidarity for children in Gaza.

“High school students in Gaza right now can’t go to school, can’t get an education,” she saidP.

“The least we can do here in Australia is come out to show our support for an end to the bombing.”

The New South Waleas premier, Chris Minns, and the education minister, Prue Car, told students to stay in class.

“If you want to change the world, get an education,” Minns said this week.

The Sydney rally is one in a series of national student strikes for Palestinians.

More than 1,000 Victorian school students blocked city streets and staged a sit-in at a major shopping centre in Melbourne on Thursday in support of Palestine.

In Adelaide, pupils held a demonstration at Parliament House.

Student demonstrators at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street in Melbourne yesterday.
Student demonstrators at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street in Melbourne yesterday. Photograph: Alex Zucco/SOPA Images/Shutterstock


Calls for urgent royal commission into domestic violence following deaths of four women in SA

A royal commission into domestic violence is “urgently needed” following the deaths of four women in one week in South Australia, AAP reports.

Hundreds of advocates are expected to rally outside Parliament House in Adelaide today after the murder of 55-year-old mother Jodie Jewell by her husband on Tuesday rounded off a horrific seven days for the state.

Domestic violence services peak body Embolden SA co-chair Maria Hagias said a national probe would mean better-targeted funding.

“A royal commission will help our state target much-needed investment where it will have the most impact, across prevention, early intervention, crisis response and recovery.”

New statistics from the AIHW show that more than half of assault injury hospitalisations in 2021–22 involving children under 15, where the perpetrator was specified, were domestic violence-related.

Latrobe University family violence researcher Leesa Hooker said a royal commission examining the issue at a national level would be a “fabulous start”.

“It is a crisis,” Hooker said.

The SA attorney general, Kyam Maher, said the government was looking to pass legislation to crack down on people who breach intervention orders, would review strangulation laws and is conducting consultation on coercive control laws.

• The national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732.


Bruce Lehrmann is due to continue to give evidence today in his defamation action against Network Ten and its presenter Lisa Wilkinson.

Yesterday his cross-examination began with questions over his after-hours visit to Parliament House with Brittany Higgins.

For more, read our report:


Firefighters battle out-of-control blazes in WA

Firefighters continue to battle out-of-control bushfires that have claimed at least 10 homes in metropolitan Perth, Australian Associated Press reports.

Authorities warned on Thursday it could be days before the fires were brought under control after they ripped through semi-rural properties and threatened more homes in up to eight suburbs.

As of 3am today, Western Australia emergency services had an emergency warning in place for four Perth suburbs in the City of Wanneroo and the City of Swan, in Perth’s north-east.

More than 150 firefighters worked through the night to save homes as the massive blaze in the city’s north forced hundreds of families to leave on Wednesday night as embers rained down on their homes.

Teams worked to assess damage to properties so evacuated residents could be informed, with fears more destroyed homes could be found.

More than 1,000 people were left without power as critical infrastructure was brought down in unforgiving temperatures that peaked at 40C, with winds of up to 80km/h fanning the flames.


Black Friday shopping splurge expected

Australian shoppers are tipped to splurge a record amount in today’s Black Friday sales after a year of sluggish retail spending, Australian Associated Press reports.

The National Retail Association expects there will be up to $6.3bn worth of sales over a four-day period while comparison website Finder predicted a $6.7bn spend.

The association’s director, Rob Godwin, said many brands had brought their discounting strategies forward after a flat start to the festive season.

It is now the nation’s most popular sales event, with a Finder survey of 1,063 people showing up to 9.3 million Australians have already taken part or planned to shop the sales.

The large number of shoppers is partially attributed to people trying to find a way through rising cost of living pressures, Finder head of consumer research Graham Cooke said.

Cooke said the categories shoppers were planning to save on had not necessarily seen the highest price increases.

“Eight out of the top 10 price increases are for food items – so consumers might be better off hunting for discounts in the grocery aisle rather than the clothes shop,” he said.

Black Friday sales are held on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States and gained traction in Australia in the past decade.

Australian shoppers are expected to spend a record amount in today’s Black Friday sales.
Australian shoppers are expected to spend a record amount in today’s Black Friday sales. Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP



Good morning and welcome to our rolling news blog. I’m Martin Farrer and after I’ve run through a couple of overnight stories and breaking news my colleague Mostafa Rachwani will step up to the plate.

In February, the Productivity Commission was asked what an affordable, accessible, high-quality, universal early education system should look like. Its new report calls for all under-fives to be able to access at least three days of childcare a week regardless of their parents’ work or income – and families earning less than $80,000 should get a universal 90% subsidy rate.

The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, says that the indefinite detainee NZYQ at the heart of the government’s difficulties over its asylum policy could have been deported – but almost all of the facts suggest otherwise. So what’s going on? Our chief political correspondent Paul Karp investigates. The whole issue of illegal migration will get another turbocharge after a group of migrants were detected on a remote beach in Western Australia. Expect some opportunistic questioning from the Coalition.

Still out west, more than 150 firefighters have been battling a massive blaze in the Perth’s northern suburbs overnight after it destroyed 10 homes and forced hundreds of local families to leave as embers rained down on their streets. The state’s emergency commissioner said the blaze was unlikely to be brought under control for days as firefighters were hampered by strong north-easterly winds bringing dry air across the land.

And it’s expected to be another big day on the stand for Bruce Lehrmann in his defamation fight against Channel Ten. We’ll have all the latest developments.

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