Law and justice

  • Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business

    The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. The Washington Post reported Monday the White House conducted an investigation into Trump’s email usage and that she used her personal email address for much of 2017. According to emails released by the watchdog group, American Oversight, Trump used her personal account ... ► Read more

  • Nissan Chairman arrested for financial misconduct

    Nissan Chairman and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn faces being fired this week after being arrested in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct, the firm said on Monday, in a stunning fall from grace for one of the world’s best-known businessmen. Mr Ghosn’s arrest and his likely dismissal from Nissan, as well as possibly from Mitsubishi and Renault, sent shockwaves through the auto industry, where he is a towering figure, credited with turning around several major ... ► Read more

  • Jarryd Hayne charged with aggravated sexual assault

    Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has been charged with aggravated sexual assault after an alleged incident in the New South Wales Hunter region on NRL grand final night. NSW Police confirmed the charge, which came after a 26-year-old woman lodged a complaint to the NRL Integrity Unit earlier this year. Mr Hayne, 30, was questioned at the Ryde Police Station on Monday afternoon and later charged with “aggravated sexual assault inflict actual bodily harm on ... ► Read more

  • Three men arrested over alleged terror plot

    Three men have been arrested for allegedly plotting a terror attack in Melbourne. Authorities say the men, aged between 23 and 30, were planning to use a semi-automatic rifle to kill as many people as possible in a crowded place. Two of the men are brothers and all three had their passports cancelled earlier this year and have been people of interest since “early 2017”, according to Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton. “There was ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission: Commonwealth Bank CEO defends variable remuneration

    Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn defended his bank’s use of “variable remuneration” to reward employees for signing customers up to more services, despite the Banking Royal Commission hearing this has led to serious misconduct. Mr Comyn told the Royal Commission that short-term variable remuneration is necessary to motivate staff — to encourage what the Commonwealth Bank calls “discretionary effort.” When asked by Rowena Orr QC why “paying an adequate and appropriate level of fixed remuneration” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 November – 18 November 2018

    UK, EU agree on draft Brexit deal In a diplomatic breakthrough, UK and European Union officials have agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement after months of negotiations. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Morrison reverses “foolish” decision to cut Foodbank funding Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened to boost the Government’s food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding. See OPMG’s coverage of this ... ► Read more

  • US bill sanctions Saudi military over Khashoggi killing, Yemen

    A bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation on Thursday (local time) seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. If the bill were to be passed, it would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. It also ... ► Read more

  • Cyber security chief: Austal hacking “attribution can take months, even years”

    The head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) said on Tuesday an investigation into the hacking of defense contractor Austal could take years, rejecting a report by the ABC that his agency had concluded the attack originated from Iran. Austal said earlier this month hackers had breached its defences to gain access to ship designs and that some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed. The attack triggered an investigation by the ... ► Read more

  • Nearly $100,000 raised for man who charged terrorist with trolley

    An online fundraiser has raised over $100,000 for a homeless man who confronted the Bourke Street terrorist with a shopping trolley during the attack on Friday. Michael Rodgers has drawn widespread attention since he repeatedly pushed a trolley at Hassan Khalif Shire Ali while the 30-year-old man attempted to stab police. “I ran, threw the trolley straight at him, got him, but didn’t get him down,” Mr Rogers told 7 News. “I did that motion ... ► Read more

  • “I’m suffocating”: Jamal Khashoggi’s last words, according to Turkish media

    The head of investigations at the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper has told Qatar’s Al Jazeera that Jamal Khashoggi’s last words were “I’m suffocating … Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic”, according to an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist at the Washington  Post, suffocated to death while a plastic bag covered his head, Nazif Karaman told Al Jazeera. Mr Karaman said the murder ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 4 November 2018 – 9 November 2018

    US midterm elections held Although some seats have still not been declared, the results of the 2018 United States midterm elections are already clear: the Senate remains in Republican hands, but the House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Bourke St attack: one dead, two others in hospital Police have shot a man in the chest in Melbourne’s CBD after he allegedly stabbed three people. See OPMG’s ... ► Read more

  • Bourke St attack: one dead, two others in hospital

    UPDATE: Police are treating the incident like a terrorist attack. Police have shot a man in the chest in Melbourne’s CBD after he allegedly stabbed three people. In a statement, police confirmed one victim died at the scene. The two other victims are being treated in hospital and OPMagazine understands one is in a critical condition and is suffering from a neck injury. The status of the other victim is unknown. The suspect, a male described ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Man arrested following explosion and stabbings in Melbourne CBD

    Police have arrested a man after responding to reports of an incident at Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD. “Police are currently at an incident on Bourke Street in the CBD,” Victoria Police said in a statement. “Police initially responded to a report of a care fire near the corner of Swanston Street about 4:20 pm (AEDT).” Police confirmed the man was shot in the chest and arrested at the scene and has been taken to ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine ordered to pay compensation for Roma hate attack

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has unanimously ruled to award a group of Roma people — victims of a 2002 hate attack — more than $200,000 in damages which will be paid by the Ukrainian Government. The attack took place on 9 September 2002, when a “mob of hundreds of people” attacked Roma homes in the village of Petrovka in Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast’, according to a press release by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), ... ► Read more

  • Former US Marine Ian Long identified as suspect in California bar shooting

    Former United States Marine Ian Long has been identified as the suspected perpetrator of a shooting in a Californian bar on Wednesday night (local time) that resulted in 13 deaths, including his own. The 28-year-old veteran served in Afghanistan and may have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. He is suspected of having carried out the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks before turning the gun on himself. The bar is popular among ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: consequences of the US midterm election results

    Although some seats have still not been declared, the results of the 2018 United States midterm elections are already clear: the Senate remains in Republican hands, but the House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats. What are the implications of these results? I answer four questions fellow non-Americans may have. Will there be a change of government? No. The United States uses a presidential system rather than a parliamentary system. The President is the ... ► Read more

  • Trump fires AG Jeff Sessions

    US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “At your request I am submitting my resignation,” Mr Sessions wrote in a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly. Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general, the President said. Mr Whitaker is expected to take charge of the the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Mr Trump tweeted: ….We thank ... ► Read more

  • Judge rejects Daily Telegraph’s request to call mystery witness in Rush defamation trial

    In the Federal Court today, Justice Michael Wigney rejected The Daily Telegraph’s request to call a new witness to give evidence in the defamation case brought against the newspaper by actor Geoffrey Rush. Mr Rush is suing the newspaper over two articles and a newsagent poster that alleged he was involved in “inappropriate behaviour” toward a fellow actor during a production of King Lear in 2015–16. Justice Wigney said that he would not permit the ... ► Read more

  • Europe to continue trading with Iran despite US re-imposition of sanctions

    United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US will exert “relentless” pressure on Iran unless it changes its “revolutionary course”. His comments came hours after the Trump Administration restored all pre-2015 nuclear deal sanctions targeting core parts of Iran’s economy. Speaking to reporters, Mr Pompeo said: “The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, ... ► Read more

  • Angry Anderson’s son dies in alleged assault

    The son of Australian rocker Gary “Angry” Anderson has died after an alleged assault in Sydney’s north. A fight broke out between Liam Anderson and another man in a reserve off Pavilion Street in Queenscliff early on Sunday morning. Police and paramedics attempted to resuscitate the 26-year-old victim, but he died on the way to hospital. The alleged attacker, aged 20, was arrested and taken to Manly Police Station to be interviewed. In a statement, ... ► Read more

  • Ukrainian anti-corruption activist dies after acid attack

    Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk has died from wounds suffered in an acid attack three months ago. The attack left her blind in one eye, and with 40% of her body severely burnt. The 33-year-old died on November 4 (local time) in a Kiev hospital where she was being treated for burns from the attack, colleagues and officials said. Ms Handzyuk, who also served as an adviser to the mayor of Black Sea port city Kherson, ... ► Read more

  • Google employees walk out in protest of sexual harassment policies

    Google employees worldwide have walked out in protest of the tech giant’s sexual harassment policies. Employees gathered in major cities around the world — including Silicon Valley, New York, London, Berlin, Hyderabad, Singapore and Sydney — in response to a report in The New York Times last week that Google had paid millions of dollars in exit packages to executives accused of misconduct, while staying silent about the complaints. “I am here because what you ... ► Read more

  • US Department of Justice charges Chinese and Taiwanese companies with economic espionage

    The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged a Chinese state-owned company, its Taiwanese partner, and three individuals for “economic espionage” related to American trade secrets. The charges come amid the ongoing trade war between the US and China, which is due in part to the Trump administration’s accusations that China has engaged in unfair trade practices, including the widespread infringement of American intellectual property. The DoJ has charged Chinese state-owned company Fujian Jinhua ... ► Read more

  • Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty

    Robert Bowers, the alleged perpetrator of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, pleaded not guilty to 44 charges on Thursday (local time). Mr Bowers, 46, requested a jury trial for charges including murder, hate crimes, and obstructing religious practices, for the attack that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for what authorities have described as the worst anti-Semitic incident in American ... ► Read more

  • Turkey: Khashoggi strangled immediately after entering consulate

    Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body dismembered just moments later, the city’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday (local time). “In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, for marriage formalities,” the statement said. “The victim’s body ... ► Read more

  • Paul Ryan: “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order”

    Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan on Tuesday (local time) broke with President Donald Trump on whether an executive order could deny a constitutional guarantee of citizenship to babies born in the US to non-citizen parents. However, despite Mr Ryan’s stern rebuttal to the President, the idea of limiting birthright citizenship still has significant cache among congressional Republicans, even though it is a constitutional guarantee stemming from the 14th Amendment. Mr Trump ... ► Read more

  • UN rights chief urges Saudi Arabia to handover Khashoggi’s body, calls for international investigation

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for international experts to take part in an independent investigation into the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, with access to evidence and witnesses. “For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable,” Ms Bachelet said in a statement. She also urged Saudi Arabia to reveal ... ► Read more

  • “Australian Alcatraz”: business group lobbies for private terrorist prison in NT

    Central Australia could be the location for an “Australian Alcatraz” that houses high-level terrorists, if an Alice Springs business group proposal goes ahead. The Alice Springs Major Business Group (ASMBG) is currently lobbying for a privately-run detention centre to be built in the middle of the Red Centre, with the facility purposely designed to detain criminals who have broken federal terrorism laws. It hopes the project will garner private investment and create a new industry ... ► Read more

  • NSW Nationals faces threats over plan to expel white supremacists, neo-Nazis

    A man has been charged with making threatening phone calls to the NSW National Party office on the day the party moved to expel white supremacist elements from its ranks. At the time, the party officials were meeting to discuss sending letters to 20 members asking them to justify why they should not be expelled from the party for alleged links to neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist views. Police arrested a 55-year-old man at a ... ► Read more

  • Over 800 Australian paedophiles refused passports

    More than 800 paedophiles have been denied Australian passports since tough new laws aimed at stopping child sex tourism were introduced late last year. Ross Tysoe, from the Australian Passport Office, says 857 child sex offenders have been denied passports and another 39 have been stopped at the border. Nine registered paedophiles have been charged with 10 offences since the legislation was passed in December, Mr Tysoe told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday. Federal ... ► Read more

  • Obamas, Clintons among suspected bomb targets

    Former US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were reportedly among those targeted in a suspected bombing attempt. According to Reuters, at least eight suspicious parcels were intercepted before reaching any intended recipients, including Mr Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and prominent Democratic Party donor George Soros. Two packages were sent to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the FBI said. None of the packages detonated. Speaking ... ► Read more

  • Seven students stabbed with syringe at Plumpton High School

    Seven students are expected to undergo urgent blood tests after being stabbed with a syringe during a brawl at Plumpton High School in Sydney’s west, NSW Ambulance says. Emergency services were called to the school just before midday, to find several students had sustained injuries to their hands and legs. Three ambulance crews remain at the scene. Police are investigating the incident, and have been told a student appeared to be doing “a prank which ... ► Read more

  • Video: David Schwimmer responds to hunt for lookalike beer thief

    Actor David Schwimmer has responded after social media users drew attention to an alleged thief who bears a resemblance to his character in the US sitcom Friends. Police in Blackpool posted on Facebook asking for witnesses to identify a suspect pictured leaving a restaurant in Blackpool carrying what appeared to be a carton of cans. Facebook users quickly piled into the comments section, pointing out the suspect’s likeness to Mr Schwimmer’s character Ross Geller in ... ► Read more

  • Banks slow to respond to misconduct, says corporate regulator

    The chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has criticised banks for failing to swiftly address misconduct. Despite assurances from bankers that they would address revelations of the Banking Royal Commission, ASIC says they are taking too long to respond. ASIC chairperson James Shipton told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services on Friday that he accepted the Royal Commission’s criticism of ASIC, but said banks need to take urgent action ... ► Read more

  • Canberra believes Labor state government behind ASIO Jerusalem advice leak

    The Australian Federal Police is investigating the leaking of a classified ASIO briefing that warned any move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could provoke unrest and violence in Palestinian territories. According to Fairfax Media, the Federal Government believes a state Labor government leaked the briefing to The Guardian. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Thursday ASIO “as a matter of routine practice provides this advice to Commonwealth and state governments on ... ► Read more

  • Queensland Parliament votes to legalise abortion

    The Parliament of Queensland voted on Wednesday night to legalise abortion in the state, in an historic reform to the centuries-old prohibition. The Queensland Government’s proposal to legalise abortion passed through the Parliament with 50 votes to 41, after all MPs were given a conscience vote. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 will ensure that abortion services can be accessed and performed without fear or stigma. “It’s taken a century to ... ► Read more

  • Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against Trump fails

    A United States federal judge has dismissed porn star Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump. US District Judge S. James Otero issued the order on Monday (local time) in Los Angeles. Ms Daniels alleges she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006 and sued him in April. The lawsuit came after the President tweeted about a composite sketch of a man Daniels says threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about the ... ► Read more

  • Prosecutors drop one of three sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein

    Prosecutors have dropped one of the three sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein, after evidence emerged that a police detective coached a witness to stay silent about evidence that cast doubt on the account of one of his accusers. The 66-year-old former movie mogul continues to face other allegations that he raped an unidentified woman in a hotel room in 2013 and performed a forced sex act on another woman in 2006. He has pleaded ... ► Read more

  • Religious schools shouldn’t expel gay students, Prime Minister says

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he would “not be comfortable” with gay students being expelled from religious schools, he said in response to leaked recommendations of the Ruddock review into religious freedoms. A list of 20 recommendations leaked to the media on Friday included the recommendation that amendments be made to the Sexual Discrimination Act to ensure religious schools can discriminate against both students and staff “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or ... ► Read more

  • Washington state Supreme Court strikes down “arbitrary and racially biased” death penalty

    On Thursday (local time) the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional and “racially biased”, the latest development in a trend away from capital punishment in the United States. Washington Governor Jay Inslee placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014 and there are no scheduled executions, but the Supreme Court ordered that the eight men on death row in the state are to have their sentences converted to ... ► Read more

  • AFP raids Home Affairs Dept over au pair scandal leaks

    Federal Police are raiding the Department of Home Affairs over suspected leaks in relation to the au pair affair that embroiled Cabinet Minister Peter Dutton last month. AFP officers entered one of the Department’s buildings in Canberra this morning, with suggestions they were seeking to secure evidence on departmental computer systems. Police received a complaint from the Department last month about an “unauthorised disclosure of information”. Emails between Mr Dutton’s office, Home Affairs personnel and ... ► Read more

  • Government promises to fast track company tax cuts ahead of federal election

    The Morrison Government has promised to fast track company tax cuts ahead of the next federal election, with legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next fortnight. The tax rate for companies with a turnover under $50 million was reduced from 30% to 27.5% for the 2018–19 financial year, and is scheduled to drop to 25% for the 2026–27 financial year. On Thursday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the Liberal-National Coalition Government intends to expedite ... ► Read more

  • Assault, arson and abduction: NSW Police manhunt ends in the Hawkesbury

    A police manhunt has ended with the arrest of three men in connection with a domestic-related incident that took place in the state’s central west on Tuesday. The three men were arrested in the Hawkesbury area on Tuesday night, about 500 kilometres from Ootha, where the incident occurred. Earlier that day police responded to reports of an assault and arson at a property in Ootha, near Condobolin. They were told that two men armed with ... ► Read more

  • Bellingcat identifies second Skripal poisoning suspect as Russian military doctor

    British-based citizen journalism website Bellingcat announced on Monday that it had identified the second suspect in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia as a military doctor working for Russia’s military intelligence directorate. The Bellingcat Investigation Team, a group of investigative citizen journalists specialising in war zones and the criminal underworld, said it “has conclusively identified the second suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias Alexander Petrov.” The team had “already produced ... ► Read more

  • “Australia is a stimulant nation” according to Criminal Intelligence Commission report

    A comparison of 23 countries shows Australia ranks second in estimated stimulant consumption, according to a report released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) on Tuesday. The fifth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program included comparisons with the United States, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and 18 European Union members, and found that Australia is a leading consumer of MDMA, cocaine, amphetamine, and methylamphetamine. The ACIC noted a decrease in methylamphetamine consumption between December ... ► Read more

  • Evidence that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, Turkish officials claim

    Turkish officials claim to have concrete evidence that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to collect papers for his upcoming wedding. Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since since Tuesday last week when he entered the consulate. Despite Saudi officials saying he left shortly afterwards, his fiancée, who was waiting outside, said he never came out. The 59-year-old contributor to The Washington Post was once close to ... ► Read more

  • Interpol president “resigns” after detention in China

    International law enforcement agency Interpol has announced it has received the resignation of its President Meng Hongwei, but says the resignation does not include an explanation or provide any information regarding his whereabouts or condition. Mr Meng, 64, who is also Vice-Minister of Public Security in China, was reported missing on Friday after travelling from France, where Interpol is based, to China. China’s National Supervisory Commission issued a statement confirming it is investigating Mr Meng ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 30 September 2018 – 6 October 2018

    Indonesia earthquake: death toll rises to nearly 1350 The number of confirmed deaths in Indonesia following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,347, disaster response officials say. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. US Senate votes on Kavanaugh confirmation The United States Senate voted on whether to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, after President Donald Trump gave the Senate Judiciary Committee an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct ... ► Read more

  • Chin-Leong Tan appointed as next Race Discrimination Commissioner

    Former lawyer Chin-Leong Tan has been appointed as Australia’s next Race Discrimination Commissioner, and says he will not hesitate to call out racism in the role. Mr Tan has held a number of diversity-focused leadership roles and will take up his new post on Monday, replacing departing Commissioner Tim Soutphomassane, who in August warned that “race politics” is back in Australia. Although Mr Tan said he’s “not in the business of criticising people”, he said ... ► Read more

  • US Senate expected to vote on Kavanaugh confirmation on Saturday

    The United States Senate is expected to vote on whether to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, after President Donald Trump gave the Senate Judiciary Committee an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh. Although the report has been denounced by Democratic Senators for being narrow in scope and ignoring key witnesses, two Republicans whose votes were previously uncertain have responded positively to the FBI’s findings. Republican Senators Jeff ... ► Read more

  • Prison sentences proposed for breaching director identification laws

    Directors of Australian companies will be required to register for a lifetime identification number or face imprisonment under draft legislation released this week. Under the exposure draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018, directors will face up to a year in prison if they fail to register. A registrar will verify the identities of the directors and create a unique identification number that stays with the director for life, ... ► Read more

  • NYT: Trump helped parents evade taxes

    United States President Donald Trump helped “his parents dodge taxes,” according to an investigative piece from The New York Times, including what the paper calls “instances of outright fraud.” Mr Trump received today’s equivalent of at least $413 million from his father and much of that money came from schemes to help his parents evade paying taxes on the fortune his father amassed in a 40-year career, according to the report. The Times’ report claims ... ► Read more

  • Privacy groups and tech companies criticise Australian anti-encryption bill

    A group of mostly American privacy activists and technology companies has criticised the Australian Government’s proposed Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, arguing it could have serious implications for online security both domestically and overseas. The proposed legislation, introduced to the House of Representatives last month by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, would give law enforcement and intelligence agencies powers to compel companies to assist in decrypting communications. “The lack of ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 23 – 29 September 2018

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces second sexual misconduct allegation United States Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman, following allegations last week that he sexually assaulted a woman at a party in 1982. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump boasts met with laughter by UN General Assembly United States President Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, which ... ► Read more

  • Former ICAC Commissioner calls for Liberal Party to support the creation of a federal integrity commission

    David Ipp, former Commissioner of the New South Wales Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) and Justice of Appeals, has called on the Liberal Party to support the establishment of a federal integrity commission with similar powers to that of the NSW anti-corruption body. The national integrity committee, a panel of former judges and anti-corruption commissioners brought together by the Australia Institute, released its proposed model for a national anti-corruption body on Friday. Ahead of the ... ► Read more

  • Judge criticises Government plan to reform family law system

    The retiring Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western Australia has strongly criticised the Federal Government’s plans to reform the family law system, suggesting it has been devised by accountants and not those who work in the sector. The Federal Government is planning to merge the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court into one body, promising that this will alleviate cost pressures and lengthy delays. Chief Judge Stephen Thackray, who is retiring in ... ► Read more

  • Elon Musk charged with securities fraud over tweets

    On Thursday (local time), the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it had charged Tesla Inc CEO and Chairman Elon Musk with securities fraud. The charge relates to a series of false and misleading tweets made by Mr Musk about a potential transaction to transform Tesla from a public to a private company. Mr Musk tweeted to his 22 million Twitter followers that he was considering taking Tesla private at US $420 per ... ► Read more

  • Nyiyaparli community wins 20-year native title battle

    The Nyiyparli community has won a 20-year legal battle to be recognised as the native title holders of approximately 40,000 square kilometres of land in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which includes the mining town of Newman. The Aboriginal community lodged its first claim on 29 September 1998, and Federal Court Justice Michael Barker handed down his decision — which has not yet been published — in an on-country at Coondiner Pool (Kuntinha) hearing ... ► Read more

  • British media identifies Skripal poisoning suspect as Russian colonel

    The true identity of one of the suspects in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga, a decorated Russian colonel, British media reported on Wednesday (local time). Earlier this month British prosecutors charged two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with attempted murder for the Novichok nerve agent attack on the Skripals in the southern English city of Salisbury that occurred in March. British prosecutors believe the men, who ... ► Read more

  • Bali announces crack down on “insolent” tourists

    Authorities on the Indonesian resort island of Bali will issue new rules on visiting religious sites, a Hindu leader said on Wednesday, after disrespectful behaviour by foreign tourists sparked anger among adherents. The Balinese provincial government is preparing a decree to regulate temple visits in order to preserve the sanctity of the holy sites, according to I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, chairperson of the Bali-based Indonesian Hindu Society. A working group comprising of government representatives and ... ► Read more

  • China supports ban on Hong Kong pro-independence party

    The Chinese Government has defended Hong Kong’s decision to ban a political party that promotes independence for the Special Administrative Region (SAR), expressing “strong dissatisfaction” toward countries that criticised the move. “Certain countries and institutions have made numerous and irresponsible remarks on the Hong Kong SAR government’s move to ban the Hong Kong National Party,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this,” he said, adding that ... ► Read more

  • Bill Cosby sentenced to three to 10 years for sexual assault

    American entertainer Bill Cosby has been sentenced to at least three years imprisonment for sexual assault. Judge Steven O’Neill handed down the sentence following a two-day hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania on Tuesday (local time). In April 2018 Mr Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004, but had to wait until September to be sentenced. Judge O’Neill sentenced Mr Cosby ... ► Read more

  • Myanmar command-in-chief rejects UN authority in Rohingya crisis

    Myanmar military officials have rejected the authority of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) following a UN report on the Rohingya refugee crisis that implicated the military in the persecution of the Rohingya people. The UN report released last week identifies instances of genocide against the Rohingya people committed by high-ranking military generals, including Min Aung Hlaing, Senior General and commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ... ► Read more

  • Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces second sexual misconduct allegation

    United States Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman, following allegations last week that he sexually assaulted a woman at a party in 1982. Senate Democrats are reportedly investigating an incident involving Deborah Ramirez, 53, which allegedly took place during Judge Kavanaugh’s freshman year at Yale University during the 1983–84 academic year. According to the New Yorker magazine, Ms Ramirez claims she clearly remembers the teenaged ... ► Read more

  • Second threatening letter received by Perth SAS HQ

    A second threatening letter was received by the Perth headquarters of the Special Air Service (SAS) in June 2018, warning soldiers against assisting a Defence Inspector-General (DIG) inquiry into allegations of misconduct and war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. The Australian Federal Police is working with the DIG inquiry to investigate the anonymous threat. The letter was addressed to an SAS soldier who served in Afghanistan alongside SAS veteran and Victoria Cross recipient Ben ... ► Read more

  • Christine Ford to testify against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

    Professor Christine Blasey Ford says she will testify against United States Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate hearing this week. Her lawyers said Professor Ford accepted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request to be questioned over an alleged sexual assault that took place at a party in 1982, and requested a hearing on Thursday (local time). The Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation following Professor Ford’s allegations last week. Judge ... ► Read more

  • Marine Le Pen refuses to undergo court-ordered psychiatric test

    Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right nationalist populist French political party National Rally (formerly called National Front), is refusing to undergo a court-ordered psychiatric examination as part of an investigation into three graphic images she tweeted in 2015. Ms Le Pen is under investigation for tweeting brutal images of Islamic State violence, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Disseminating violent images is illegal under French law, and psychiatric evaluations must be carried ... ► Read more

  • Australia considers sanctions against Myanmar over Rohingya atrocities

    The Australian Government is considering targeted sanctions against Myanmar (Burma) in response to atrocities committed against the Rohingya people. The United Nations has recommended that several of Myanmar’s senior military officials be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, after a UN fact-finding mission documented atrocities committed against ethnic minorities in the country, including the Rohingya people. “The full report of the fact-finding mission adds to a large body of evidence indicating the ... ► Read more

  • MH17: Dutch to look at new evidence provided by Russia

    Dutch prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have said they will analyse all information provided by Russia, after the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) released a report that claims the missile that hit the plane was fired by pro-Kiev forces. Speaking to reporters on Monday (local time), General Nikolay Parshin showed a number of documents which appeared to identify the Buk missile. According to General Parshin, the Russian MOD used serial numbers ... ► Read more

  • Death no barrier to charging life insurance premiums, AMP tells Royal Commission

    AMP continued to charge life insurance premiums after being notified customers had died, executive Paul Sainsbury told the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry on Monday. Mr Sainsbury confirmed that in some cases AMP did not stop insurance premiums even when there was no longer a life to insure. He explained that AMP’s system “was coded to refund [premiums] when the claim was admitted”, rather than “stop the premiums ... ► Read more

  • Government, aged-care sector to establish royal commission scope

    The Government will work with aged-care providers to determine the terms of reference for the newly announced royal commission into the sector, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday. Mr Morrison announced the royal commission in response to findings of widespread non-compliance and abuse of elderly people at aged-care facilities. According to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, there was a 177% increase in the number of aged-care homes where a serious risk to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 9 – 15 September 2018

    Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning suspects speak on Russian state TV

    Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two men identified by the British Government as suspects in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March, have spoken to Russian broadcaster RT, claiming they travelled to the UK simply as tourists. In the interview with RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the pair confirmed that they are the men in the images released by UK authorities last week and said they travelled to Salisbury — the location of the attack ... ► Read more

  • CommInsure negotiated penalty for misleading heart attack cover advertising

    CommInsure, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank, made a voluntary $300,000 “community benefit payment” as part of a deal with the corporate regulator to avoid a multi-million-dollar fine for misleading advertising. The insurer failed to adequately disclose in its advertising that its heart attack cover was limited to severe heart attacks, as defined by CommInsure using an out-of-date definition. Instead, customers would have to access and read the product disclosure statement. CommInsure’s managing director Helen ... ► Read more

  • Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment

    Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton withdraw his “disgusting and offensive” accusation that Mr Quaedvlieg “groomed” a younger woman who became his girlfriend. Mr Dutton made the accusation in Parliament on Tuesday, taking advantage of parliamentary privilege to protect him from legal retaliation. The 53-year-old Mr Quaedvlieg was dismissed earlier this year when it emerged he had helped his girlfriend, believed to be in her 20s, ... ► Read more

  • Freedom Insurance pushed accidental death policy on man with Down syndrome

    Freedom Insurance staff pressured a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome into signing up for an accidental death policy, despite no indication that the man understood what he was agreeing to, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard on Tuesday. Grant Stewart’s son was sold an accidental death insurance policy by Freedom Insurance in 2016. Mr Stewart told the Royal Commission that while his son has “reasonable” literacy and ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission reveals ClearView’s abusive sales tactics

    The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard further details of ClearView Direct’s abusive sales tactics on Tuesday. ClearView Direct call centre training materials from 2014 show that its sales staff were encouraged to continue signing up reluctant customers by telling them they could read the policy documents after signing up for life insurance. The insurer’s chief actuary, Gregory Martin, conceded that this was wholly inappropriate. Senior counsel assisting ... ► Read more

  • Massive class action suit launched against Australian banks

    Millions of workers could receive a payout in what is expected to be the largest class action suit in Australian legal history. Law firm Slater and Gordon are preparing for legal action against Australia’s largest banks on behalf of the third of Australian workers believed to have their superannuation invested with the banks. Slater and Gordon “will allege the big bank-backed super funds failed to obtain for members competitive cash interest rates on cash option ... ► Read more

  • ClearView under fire for junk life insurance policies

    A cleaner with a heart problem was sold an inferior insurance product by ClearView after she was told she was not eligible for life insurance, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard on Monday. A recording of a phone call was played before the Royal Commission, in which the customer was “downgraded” to an accidental death policy as a “backup” option because her pre-existing heart problem made her ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission: insurers admit substantial misconduct

    On Monday the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry started a round of hearings on life insurance, general insurance, and disaster insurance. This week the Royal Commission will focus on life insurance, including sales, claims, dispute resolution, and superannuation arrangements. Rowena Orr QC, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, raised concerns that insurance claims handling does not come within the Corporations Act 2001, and so the Australian Securities and Investment ... ► Read more

  • Saipov defence cites Trump tweets in argument against death penalty

    The defence team of accused “bike path terrorist” Sayfullo Saipov has argued that tweets from US President Donald Trump and the President’s criticisms of the Department of Justice would make it impossible for Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to fairly and impartially seek the death penalty. Mr Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, is accused of driving a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners in Lower Manhattan, New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others ... ► Read more

  • Indian Supreme Court decriminalises consensual gay sex

    The Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual gay sex in a unanimous decision delivered in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon (local time). A five-judge bench determined that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” with up to life imprisonment, shall no longer apply to homosexual activity. “Any discrimination on the basis of one‘s sexual orientation would entail a violation ... ► Read more

  • Former Victorian Greens leader accused of sexism

    More allegations of sexism in the Australian Greens have emerged, with former Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber accused of calling women in the workplace “fat, hairy lesbians”, “power pussies” and “hairy-legged feminists”. It is claimed that Mr Barber also had a meeting room in his office that female staff were not allowed to enter unless invited. Mr Barber is the brother-in-law of federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Earlier this year, it was revealed that ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning: UK names Russian nationals as suspects

    British investigators have named two Russian nationals as suspects in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday (local time) the men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are believed to be officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). She said the poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian ... ► Read more

  • Trump criticises Attorney-General for indicting Republican congressmen before mid-term elections

    United States President Donald Trump has publicly criticised Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and suggested that the Department of Justice has jeopardised Republican hopes for the upcoming mid-term elections by indicting two Republican congressmen. The President tweeted: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not ... ► Read more

  • Westpac to pay $35 million settlement in irresponsible home loan case

    Westpac has agreed to settle a case with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) involving more than 10,000 loans that allegedly breached responsible lending laws. As part of the settlement, the bank will pay a $35 million civil penalty for irresponsible lending. ASIC commenced proceedings in March 2017, alleging that Westpac’s use of the Household Expenditure Measure (HEM) to calculate loan applicants’ living costs led to customers being approved for loans that they would ... ► Read more

  • Report says “worst fears” surpassed in Nauru detention centre

    A report co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released on Monday details escalating levels of abuse, trauma, and desperation in Australia’s offshore detention centre in Nauru. According to the report, the situation for the 900 people detained on Nauru (including 109 children) has surpassed the “worst fears” of advocates when the policy of offshore detention was reinstated in 2012. Around 50 overseas medical requests have been actively blocked ... ► Read more

  • EU and UK clash over Brexit negotiations

    Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, “strongly” opposes key parts of the British Government’s proposals for a future trade deal between the United Kingdom and the EU. Mr Barnier’s comments follow an article penned by British Prime Minister Theresa May and published in The Sunday Telegraph, in which the Prime Minister insisted she will not make compromises on the Government’s plan to leave the EU that are against the “national interest”. Included in ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 26 August–1 September 2018

    Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • Dutton ignored Border Force advice when granting au pair’s visa

    Emails leaked to Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching reveal that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ignored the advice of a senior Australian Border Force official when intervening in the case of a detained French au pair. This revelation adds to the concerns that Mr Dutton intervened in the matter as a personal favour to Liberal Party donors. The emails show that Mr Dutton approved the release of 27-year-old Alexandra Deuwel, despite being told there was detail ... ► Read more

  • Allegations that Dutton intervened in au pair case due to lobbying

    Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton is under fire for personally intervening to free a 27-year-old au pair from immigration detention in November 2015. The au pair, Alexandra Deuwel, arrived at Adelaide Airport on 31 October 2015 and was detained because she had arrived on the wrong visa. Mr Dutton personally intervened to grant Ms Deuwel and three-month tourist visa because it was “in the public interest”. In a document marked “Sensitive: Personal” dated 1 ... ► Read more

  • Search for first asylum seeker boat arrivals since 2014 still underway in North Queensland

    The search for a group of asylum seekers is currently underway in a crocodile-infested area in far north Queensland, after a boat that was carrying a number of asylum seekers from Vietnam ran aground. The boat, which has since been abandoned, is the first people-smuggling vessel to have reached Australia in 1400 days, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said. “I want to confirm for you today that Australia, we believe, has received the first vessel ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns American economy would crash if he was impeached

    United States President Donald Trump has warned that any attempt to impeach him could result in the crash of the American economy. The President made the claim as the White House struggles to manage the fallout after Mr Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, entered into a plea deal on behalf of Mr Trump’s former campaign chairperson, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of financial offences this week. The President, who is incensed at Michael Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand passes law banning foreign non-residents from buying houses

    The New Zealand Parliament yesterday passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018, which bans many non-resident foreigners from buying existing housing, as part of the Labour Government’s election promise to tackle housing affordability. During the election campaign last September, now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to stem rising house prices and reduce growing homelessness, partly by banning foreign buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker, who introduced the bill in December last year, described the bill’s passing ... ► Read more

  • Man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after Westminster car crash

    The driver of a Ford Fiesta that was involved in a collision in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster yesterday morning (local time) has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences and is being held in a south London police station, according to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. At 7:37am the vehicle collided with cyclists and pedestrians, resulting in the hospitalisation of two people with non-life threatening injuries. The man was alone ... ► Read more

  • Government releases exposure draft of encryption-breaking legislation

    The Government today released an exposure draft of its proposed legislative response to increasing use of encrypted communications services. Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 “will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network” and will “expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors.” For more than ... ► Read more

  • Former Archbishop Philip Wilson to serve child sex abuse concealment sentence in home detention

    Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will serve his sentence for concealing child sex abuse in home detention. Mr Wilson was sentenced to 12 months detention with six months non-parole for covering up child sex abuse that occurred in the 1970s in the NSW Hunter region. He has spent the last few weeks on bail while he and his sister’s homes were being assessed for home detention. He will be eligible for parole on February 13, ... ► Read more

  • Former ACCC chief calls for consumer watchdog to take over ASIC banking powers

    Former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Professor Allan Fels has called for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to be stripped of its regulatory powers over banks, and those powers handed to the ACCC. Criticising ASIC for being ineffectual in dealing with banking misconduct, Professor Fels told ABC’s AM programme that “ASIC is not feared, unlike the ACCC.” According to Professor Fels, transferring bank supervisory powers from ASIC to the ... ► Read more

  • Canadian ambassador expelled as relations with Saudi Arabia rapidly deteriorate

    Canadian ambassador Denis Horak has been expelled from Saudi Arabia after Canada called for the release of human rights activists. Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists. — Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018 Saudi Arabia has also frozen all trade with Canada and its state airline ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 29 July – 4 August 2018

    Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump on Mueller investigation: “Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’ US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in ... ► Read more