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Sydney News: Transport Minister Rob Stokes raises questions about future of Sydney's casinos

Star Entertainment investors have launched a class action against the company. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

Here's what you need to know this morning.

Casino future in Sydney

A senior government minister says NSW must reconsider the future of casinos in Sydney following revelations of widescale money laundering and criminal activity at The Star.

Transport Minister Rob Stokes told state parliament last night his constituents had raised concerns with him about the impact of Sydney's casinos in light of the recent revelations.

His comments came after a class action was filed on behalf of investors in the Star Entertainment Group amid a damning public inquiry into the group's casino operations in Sydney. 

The investors are seeking compensation for misleading or deceptive representations Star made about its compliance with regulatory obligations. 

Their lawsuit comes during a royal-commission-style public inquiry into Star's fitness to hold its casino licence in Sydney following media reports of "suspected money laundering [and] organised crime". 

Mr Stokes said the impact of the inquiries "would have significant impacts on the regulatory environments faced by casino operators".

"Those impacts will generate a cascading series of consequences that should cause us to pose an existential question about the future of casinos in New South Wales," he said.

Lismore evacuation order

Emergency services raised the alarm after heavy rain caused flash flooding in the city's CBD. (AAP: Darren England)

Authorities predict Lismore's levee could be breached this morning as residents continue to evacuate amid concerns about potential "life-threatening" flash flooding.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Neil Bennett said water could rise over the levee this morning, with further rises in the afternoon.

"Within the system, there will be bands of very localised heavier rainfall which will also affect the catchment," he said.

"It is being monitored very closely and we will be reacting quickly to new information that comes in."

Residents of the town's CBD, as well as Lismore Basin, East Lismore and Girards Hill have been urged to leave immediately.

It is the second evacuation order for the town in 24 hours. Residents had been given the all-clear to return with caution yesterday afternoon.

Flash flooding in the CBD has inundated roads, and authorities say residents should evacuate now before the roads become impassable.

The Wilsons River is currently sitting at 10.1 metres, however it remains below the height of the levee (10.6m).

Murder charge over death of Malaysian National

Three men have been charged in connection with the alleged murder of a 24-year-old man in the NSW central west.

Police said an investigation into the manufacture and supply of prohibited drugs led to the discovery of the disappearance and suspected murder of 24-year-old 'Jacky' Chong Kai Wong in December 2020.

A search is underway at a rural property about 40-kilometres north-west of Bathurst in the hopes of finding his body.

A crime scene remains in place at the property at Killongbutta.

Two men are set to face court today on charges including murder, and a third is set to return to court in May.

New law for killing unborn children

Brodie Donegan lost her unborn baby, Zoe, on Christmas Day in 2009. (ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Criminal acts which kill unborn children came into effect in NSW yesterday after years of advocacy.

The offence of "causing the loss of a foetus" — also known as Zoe's law — is now enshrined in state law and carries a maximum jail term of 28 years in serious cases.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said it applied to people who caused the loss of another person's unborn child through a criminal act, such as dangerous driving.

Where a foetus is lost by causing the unlawful death of a pregnant woman, an additional three-year sentence could be added on top of punishment for related charges such as murder.

The laws are triggered when a foetus is at least 20 weeks or weighs 400g.

Mr Speakman said the reforms "better acknowledge the heartbreak suffered by families and hold offenders more appropriately to account through stronger sentences".

Brodie Donegan, whose unborn daughter Zoe was killed in a car crash at 32 weeks, said nothing could replace a child's life but the new laws would bring justice to their families.

St Peters upgrade

The government says the plan transforms previously congested and underutilised space. (Supplied: NSW government)

Sydney Park Junction at St Peters will see 5,000 square metres of road turned into public space in response to public feedback.

Under the plan, Sydney Park Road cycleway will be upgraded to a permanent, two-way, separated cycleway to link to the broader Sydney cycling network.

The Bridge Road pop-up cycleway in Glebe will also become a permanent route with an upgraded safety barrier, improving its visual impact.

Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes said St Peters and Newtown would benefit hugely from the changes, with six lanes of traffic shrinking down to four.

"Local residents will experience less congestion and noise, with traffic volumes expected to reduce with less lanes, reduced speed limits and diversion of heavy vehicles to Campbell Road (east of Princes Highway) and Euston Road," Mr Stokes said.

Judge to make witness call in Ben Roberts-Smith trial

Ben Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers over a series of 2018 articles. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

The judge overseeing the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial will today decide whether a key soldier witness should be compelled to give evidence about allegedly killing an Afghan man at the direction of the war veteran in 2012. 

Mr Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers over 2018 reports which include what he says are false allegations of unlawful killings, bullying and domestic violence. 

Codenamed Person 66, the witness is identified in publisher Nine Entertainment's court documents as an SAS soldier who was allegedly "blooded" during a mission in October 2012. 

Nine's barrister considers his evidence so relevant it could independently win it the case.

Boat bursts into flames

One person suffered significant burns when a cruiser boat caught fire in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney, yesterday.

Six fire trucks carrying 30 firefighters and a Rural Fire Service boat were called to the scene at Fennell Bay at about 6pm.

On arrival, a large motor cruiser was found well alight at the back of a Brougham Street home with flames leaping 15 metres into the air.

Firefighters located a man, believed to be 64, with serious burns and provided first aid until paramedics arrived.

NSW Police said the man was rushed to Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition.

The fire was not being treated at suspicious.

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