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Emma Elsworthy

Lehrmann’s rent-free, ocean-view deal


The Seven Network paid former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann’s rent for a full year, the SMH ($) reports, and a back-of-envelope calculation shows that it could be a six-figure sum considering he now lives in a three-bedroom home on the northern beaches with ocean views. adds that Lehrmann told the court in his defamation suit that he didn’t know the total rent amount because the “network handled the accommodation arrangements”. Must be nice. 7NEWS Spotlight had previously said it didn’t pay him for the interview but had “assisted with accommodation as part of the filming of the story”. The mental gymnastics one needs to do to make that statement fit with the facts…

The delightfully acerbic Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell continue that “Seven’s piece of chequebook journalism” got nominated for a Walkley, and journalist Nina Funnell notes the rules state you’ve gotta declare any payments or benefits. A Walkleys spokesperson has since said it is “considering its position”. 7News’s coverage yesterday didn’t mention a thing about this. Meanwhile, Guardian Australia has published a cracking explainer of the six lies Lehrmann has admitted to under cross-examination so far — including in a letter to his old boss, former defence minister Linda Reynolds, and lying about his reason for lying about why he entered Parliament House. A reminder that Lehrmann brought this case himself. Brittany Higgins sat just eight seats away, the SMH ($) reports, watching on as Lisa Wilkinson’s silk, Sue Chrysanthou, cross-examined him like a wily octopus, the paper says.


The Voice to Parliament probably would’ve passed if Opposition Leader Peter Dutton had got behind it, Guardian Australia reports, because there was a 30% dip in support from Coalition voters after he said he wouldn’t. Also the reasons given in a survey were almost verbatim for the major talking points of the No campaign. Meanwhile opposition Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says Australians didn’t want a different model, as an ANU study deduced, but rather a path to reconciliation by listening to the voices that people “completely ignore”. She told Sky News Australia the emails and comments she’s received tell her that “Australians certainly did not want the Voice proposal that the Albanese government had put on the table”. Erm, yeah, like I said… ANU co-author Nicholas Biddle may be thinking this morning.

This comes as hundreds of Indigenous families are joining class actions that allege a repeat of the Stolen Generations by states forcing their kids into care. There are lodged or planned actions in Queensland, Victoria, NSW, Western Australia and South Australia, The Australian ($) reports. Some 58 out of every 1,000 Indigenous kids are in care — compare that with 4.7 per 1,000 non-Indigenous kids. Meanwhile in the NT, Chief Minister Natasha Fyles “broke a promise” by changing grog laws this week, even though she’d vowed not to mess with business operating environments before the next term of government. Under the tweaks, NT News ($) reports, bottle-os must open two hours later (at midday) in the Top End and private security guards can carry capsicum spray. Cripes. But the hospitality industry said it’d cost them jobs.


The four editors at the SMH and The Age who wrote a letter to staff barring them from Israel-Hamas coverage if they had signed a statement urging media to do better have all been on paid trips to Israel, Crikey has confirmed. They are Tory Maguire, Patrick Elligett, Bevan Shields and David King. Guardian Australia’s editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor — who also went on a paid trip to Israel, Crikey notes — has also told 24 staff she’s concerned they signed the letter, The Australian ($) reports, because “open letters can be perceived as raising questions about our reporting, even if that is not the intention”. But so far her team’s coverage had been “comprehensive, accurate and fair”, Taylor qualified. Of course, some may point out that a paid trip does not automatically compromise the impartiality of these editorial leaders — accordingly, others might argue, signing a letter doesn’t either. Your Worm editor is remaining impartial on that last sentence.

Speaking of transparency matters, Queensland has just changed the rules so cabinet documents will be released within 30 days from the first half of 2024, The Courier-Mail ($) reports (an extremely rare sighting of positive Annastacia Palaszczuk coverage in the rag!). Politicians will mull over a change that’d protect them from civil proceedings, and a change to the Right to Information Act to allow the redaction of documents. Meanwhile in federal politics, legislation rushed through the lower house yesterday will be tweaked so the government can lock up recently released stateless offenders if they pose a “risk” to society, the AFR ($) writes. Folks, I urge you to read the ABC story about Gus Kuster, one of the 141 recently released detainees, who said he does not feel free.


High school student Izzy Miller was sitting back-to-front on a stationary bus squawking away with a friend when she felt a sickening lurch. Whipping around, she noticed the driver’s seat was empty. The 20 or so schoolkids were stunned as the bus began to roll, and Miller sprang into action. She leapt from her seat, sprinted to the front, jammed herself in front of the steering wheel and noticed the bus was headed directly for a petrol bowser at a mini-mart. Okay, think, she told herself, surveying the mysterious levers and pedals. She hadn’t been taught to drive yet — she’s 14 — but how hard could it be?

Miller held her breath and pushed down on one of the pedals. There was a 50/50 chance she’d either pushed the accelerator and sped up the explosive death they were probably rolling towards, or the brake pedal that would excuse them all from the fiery end. Luck was in her favour — it was the brake, and the bus “actually stopped”, she told the ABC. Very cool. Her mum was beside herself with pride, saying the principal had told her the phone calls they’d made afterwards could have been very different had Miller not saved the day. The mini-mart owner was equally relieved, saying the bowser was in use and may well have blown up. The only thing that did blow up was the tale of the teen’s quick thinking among the NSW Casino community and beyond.

Hoping you’re brave like Izzy Miller today.


If I don’t stay strong on this and I pander to a loud minority, that’s not a good thing.

Pat Cummins

The Australian cricket captain has been accused of being too “woke” after his statements about climate change, the Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum and Black Lives Matter, but he said: “You can’t just say, ‘I want to play cricket in front of millions of people’ but also ‘I don’t want anyone to have an opinion on me.’ ”


Does it make sense to still worry about long COVID?

(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

“It’s not proof of long COVID, but it is what we’d expect to see if long COVID was taking people out. The wrinkle in the theory is the rise is a little later than you might expect if long COVID were the main cause — it pops up in late 2023. Unless of course COVID has been quietly ravaging our population this year.

“It’s a small sample, but it is a clue that a blasé attitude to COVID could, for some people, be a problem. The risk is there — not high enough to be tearing the population apart, but probably not at zero either. I don’t think we should sneer at anyone who wants to mask up or avoid crowds — not until we get a lot more data.”

Alan Kohler’s housing essay resonates — but some economic forces remain absent


“Yes, there is a decline in public housing provision as an ‘outside option’ to escape the private rental and home-buying market. I completely agree here and think that a better range of public housing options, drawing on workable systems from abroad, or even at home, like defence housing in Australia, should be greatly expanded.

“On the idea that getting people out of cities and into the regions will make homes cheaper, I am wary. It might make some infrastructure provisions more efficient. But we saw what a flight to the regions was like during COVID, which made housing there more expensive in terms of rent and prices. Are higher rents and prices in the regions and lower rents and prices in the cities a good outcome? I’m not sure.”

Conservatives don’t love babies the most — I do! 


“Let’s assume [Greg] Sheridan isn’t just another man sulking that not everyone with a uterus considers it their God-given purpose to use it to procreate, and let’s take a generous reading of Sheridan’s interpretation of the F-word, trusting that he understands it as a constellation of diverse movements with often different priorities.

“Perhaps in the pages of The Australian, however, he is most frequently exposed to a kind of mainstream neoliberal girlboss ‘feminism’ via profiles of mining she-E-Os, a feminism increasingly out of step with social ideals of equality, rights and justice — and as American studies Professor Catherine Rottenberg points out, one more often compatible with the political and economic agendas of free-market capitalism, consumerism and privatisation.”


Israel arrests almost as many Palestinians as it has released during truce (Al Jazeera)

Ukraine spy chief’s wife poisoned, says Kyiv (BBC)

Hunter Biden willing to testify on Capitol Hill in December, his lawyers say (CNN)

Powerful Koch group endorses [Nikki] Haley’s 2024 Republican presidential bid (Reuters)

Finland to close all borders with Russia after migrant surge (euronews)

Geert Wilders will have to scrap most of manifesto to enter government, say experts (The Guardian)

The 10 best books of 2023 (The New York Times) ($)


Brilliant: a COP28 to save the planet — staged by oil barons who imperil itMarina Hyde (The Guardian): “Either way it says quite a lot about the displacement activities of the age that this particular media story is currently garnering more feverish interest than Thursday’s conference, supposedly convened to head off an existential threat to life as much of the world knows it. If only they could make the climate crisis more like Succession, maybe it would pique the attention of The Telegraph’s somewhat distracted below-the-line commenters. Not that I didn’t have a huge amount of time for one judgment that ‘GB News will be the last redoubt of the free press if Islam buys The Telegraph’ …

“In fact, COP28 seems to be taking on the character of one of those late-stage FIFA tournaments, where World Cups are really just an international bribery exchange to which the football merely serves as the backdrop. How else to explain Monday’s revelation by the BBC and non-profit Centre for Climate Reporting that Al Jaber and the UAE planned to use the conference to pitch and promote oil and gas deals to foreign governments including China, Brazil, Germany and Egypt? We have to say ‘planned’, because COP28 spokesfolk now say the documents detailing the strategy ‘were not used by COP28 in meetings’ and that ‘private meetings are private’. No doubt, no doubt.”

Troubling letter a new low for media at war with truth and reasonRita Panahi (Herald Sun) ($): “By all means scrutinise every bit of information, but what sort of anti-Israeli zealotry would see any media professional treat Hamas and the Israeli government as equally untrustworthy. Do they forget that Hamas are subhuman savages who a few weeks ago burnt families alive, beheaded babies, raped and tortured women and deliberately used their own people as human shields. The statement also claims ‘the conflict did not start on October 7’ and that audiences should be given context such as ‘the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their native lands in 1948 to make way for the state of Israel’.

“If you hold Israel to a different standard than every other democratic nation then you may be an anti-Semite. Indeed, that’s one of the definitions of the word according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Another is denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and claiming that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour … The media is full of activists masquerading as impartial journalists but this is another low for a profession that is often lacking moral clarity and at war with truth and reason.”



Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Johns Hopkins school of advanced international studies’ Eliot A. Cohen will talk about the Russia-Ukraine war at the Lowy Institute. You can also catch this one online.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Former PM Tony Abbott and former union official Keith Harvey will speak about the late independent senator Brian Harradine at the Sydney Institute.

  • Author Robyn Ferrell will talk about her new book, Private Language, at Better Read Than Dead bookshop.

Yuggera and Turrbal Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Author Michelle Upton will talk about her new book, Emergency Exit Only, at Avid Reader bookshop.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

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