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Huge reward to help solve cold case of missing mum

<p>Police are offering a $500,000 reward for information to help solve a cold case that suspect was a murder. </p> <p>Tammy Lisa Dyson, also known as Tamela Menzies, was 23 when went missing from the Currumbin area in 1995. </p> <p>The mother of two was picked up from a drug rehab clinic by a woman claiming to be her sister on July 20, 1995 and has not been seen since. </p> <p>Dyson was born and raised in Victoria before moving to Brisbane in 1988, where she worked in the adult entertainment industry under the nickname "Pebbles". </p> <p>Police believe she began mixing with criminals and using drugs while working in strip clubs on the Gold Coast.</p> <p>In early 1995 Dyson arranged for her young sons, Jyles and Rainey, to stay with their grandmother in Victoria temporarily.</p> <p>A few months later she made a distressed call to her sister Olivia, who said she had been assaulted. </p> <p>Olivia and her partner then dropped Dyson off to a drug rehabilitation centre at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, and on July 20, 1995 she was picked up by someone claiming to be her sister. </p> <p>The following day, Tammy completed a statutory declaration signed by a Justice of the Peace in Tweed Heads, giving custody of her children and her possessions to her mother.</p> <p>She also called her sister one last time, with Olivia recalling that Tammy "didn't sound like herself" and she had mentioned underworld figures. </p> <p>Police have received a number of reported sightings of Tammy since 1995 but all proof of life inquiries have  been proven negative.</p> <p>In 2012, the Queensland coroner said that they believed Tammy was deceased and indicated that she may have been a victim of violence, although a certain date, time and cause of death have not been determined. </p> <p>Police are now offering the huge reward for new information and immunity from prosecution for any accomplice who comes forward.</p> <p>"Tammy associated with criminals that were known to police and vanished without a trace after giving custody of her children and possessions to her mother; we believe the circumstances of her disappearance is suspicious," Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said.</p> <p>On Wednesday, her sons, who were only three and one when their mother disappeared, made an emotional appeal for public help to find her. </p> <p>"Growing up without mum and not knowing what happened to her has been very hard," Jyles Lebler said through tears during a media conference. </p> <p>"Whoever has picked her up, I'm not saying they have done something but they must know something bad has happened."</p> <p>"We hope we find out what to mum to give grandma some closure before it's too late," Rainey added.</p> <p><em>Images: Queensland Police</em></p>

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Forgotten Bondi Junction hero's plea to PM

<p>An "unsung hero" still recovering in hospital after confronting Joel Cauchi during the Westfield Bondi Junction stabbings, has asked the Prime Minister if he too can be considered for citizenship. </p> <p>Muhammad Taha and Faraz Tahir were the two security guards who risked their lives to protect innocent bystanders when they confronted the killer on Saturday afternoon. </p> <p>Tahir lost his life in the process, while Taha remains in hospital after sustaining severe injuries. </p> <p>Taha, originally from Pakistan, recalled the events of the tragic day from his hospital bed, and described the moment they witnessed people fleeing in panic. </p> <p>“Faraz moved to assess the situation and to save the people; all of a sudden the guy came out,” he told <em>The Australian. </em></p> <p>“Faraz confronted him and was stabbed. After that, (Cauchi) jumped on me. I tried to defend but got stabbed.”</p> <p>Taha who is currently on a graduate visa that is due to expire within weeks, issued a desperate plea to the government asking them to give him an extension, following the public praise and a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/prime-minister-s-extraordinary-offer-for-bollard-man" target="_blank" rel="noopener">confirmed visa extension</a> for French national Damien Guerot, nicknamed “bollard man” after the attacks.</p> <p>“As a direct victim of the incident, I believe I deserve recognition and consideration for citizenship,” Taha said. </p> <p>His request was also met with support from Sunrise’s Nat Barr who took the inquiry straight to Defence Minister Richard Marles on Thursday morning. </p> <p>“Mr Taha wants to know where his visa is at after the Prime Minister told the bollard hero that he can be in Australia as long as he likes ... Will Mr Taha also be allowed to stay?” she asked live on air.</p> <p>Marles said the immigration minister will work on a visa application, and said that Taha's act was "enormously brave". </p> <p>“Coming out of that tragedy are these incredible stories of bravery for which the nation is really greatly indebted and the circumstances of Mr Taha I’m sure will be worked through.”</p> <p>Shajar Ahmad, another colleague of Taha and Tahir, described them as “unsung heroes” of the bloody massacre.</p> <p>Albanese has responded to the request and said that a permanent visa would be “granted to (Guerot) today”, and that Taha’s case will also be considered.</p> <p>“(Taha) confronted this guy... It just shows extraordinary courage, these are people who ... not thinking of themselves, were putting themselves in danger protecting Australians they didn’t know, just people going about their shopping,” Albanese told Adelaide radio<em> 5AA</em>.</p> <p>“And that’s the sort of courage that we want to say thank you to, frankly. Those extraordinary stories of bravery in amongst the carnage and tragedy that we saw on Saturday.</p> <p>“It’s a bit of light in amongst the darkness that you saw these extraordinary acts.”</p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

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Old woman targeted and accused of shoplifting

<p>The photo of an elderly woman has sparked widespread outrage, as the older woman was targeted by police officers who accused her of shoplifting. </p> <p>A bystander snapped a photo of an old lady standing outside a Coles supermarket, as she was set upon by two police officer who began sifting through her shopping to check if she had stolen anything. </p> <p>Posting the photo to X, the bystander explained how the situation unfolded. </p> <p>"I just saw this poor old lady get arrested by police for shoplifting food," the post read. </p> <p>"I told them that I'll pay for her food and let her go and then I got threatened with being arrested for obstructing police. Boycott Coles and Woolworths."</p> <p>The pictures show the woman talking with police in the Melbourne CBD as a number of items from her shopping are placed on the ground.</p> <p>Commenters online quickly jumped to fury over the situation, defending the woman and calling for empathy for older people who are struggling financially.</p> <p>"This is so messed up. If people are forced to steal food, we need a better alternative," one said.</p> <p>"The elderly do not have enough to live on, pension rises are not covering food and  utility price rises and the government couldn't care less," another said.</p> <p>"In my neck of the woods, I see some elderly folk snacking on grapes in supermarkets. They are left alone to do so by staff," a third added.</p> <p>"Seems like some training in empathy and kindness is needed," added a fourth. </p> <p><em>Image credits: X (Twitter)</em></p>

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Health retreat responds to woman's suspected mushroom poisoning death

<p>The alternative health centre where Rachael Dixon died after consuming a drink allegedly containing <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/woman-dies-after-suspected-mushroom-poisoning-at-health-retreat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">poisonous mushrooms</a> have issued a public statement on the incident. </p> <p>The 53-year-old and her friends took part in a holistic wellness retreat at Soul Barn Creative Wellbeing Centre when Dixon fell ill on Saturday night after <span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">she allegedly crushed up mushrooms</span><span style="background-color: #ffffff; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;"> and consumed them in a drink. </span></p> <p>While her two friends were rushed to hospital and released a few days later, Dixon went into cardiac arrest, and despite best efforts by paramedics, she died at the scene just after 12am.</p> <p>Soul Barn, a self-described “creative wellbeing centre” specialising in holistic and alternative practices issued a statement on Thursday saying they were devastated by the incident. </p> <p>They also claimed that the event on Saturday that Dixon attended was not run by the centre or facilitated by any of its staff.</p> <p>“Soul Barn hires out workshop (spaces) to external businesses and facilitators,” they said. </p> <p>“The event which took place on April 13 was a private event, and those facilitating the event do not work for or represent Soul Barn in any way.</p> <p>“None of our regular therapists staff or facilitators were present at any point during this event.</p> <p>“We share the shock and devastation of everyone involved, and our hearts are with those families affected.”</p> <p>The health centre will remain closed while police investigate Dixon's death and a report is being prepared for the coroner. </p> <p><em>Image: 7NEWS</em></p>

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Student wrongly named as Bondi killer sues Seven Network

<p>A 20-year-old university student who was wrongly named as the Bondi Junction killer has made moves to sue the Seven Network for defamation. </p> <p>As the terrifying rampage at the eastern suburbs Westfield unfolded on Saturday which resulted in the deaths of six people, Ben Cohen was named by the Seven Network as the knife-wielding man. </p> <p>Mr Cohen’s name was wrongly linked to the attack by <em>Sunrise</em> co-host Matt Shirvington shortly after 6am on Sunday and again by journalist Lucy McLeod just 10 minutes later.</p> <p>It wasn't until hours later that Seven identified the right man, Joel Cauchi, as the killer as journalist Sarah Jane Bell issued an on-air apology to Mr Cohen during the evening news bulletin. </p> <p>“Earlier this morning, reports of the incident incorrectly named the perpetrator as 40-year-old Benjamin Cohen,” she said on air.</p> <p>“It was later confirmed that the name of the 40-year-old is Joel Cauchi from Queensland. Seven apologises for any distress caused by our earlier reports.”</p> <p>Mr Cohen is still reeling from the incident, saying he has been targeted by online trolls on social media ever since he was wrongly named by the network. </p> <p>His name was one of the most trending topics on X in Australia the day of the mass stabbing, with many people quick to point out Mr Cohen's Jewish identity, claiming the stabbings were an act of violence in support of the war in Israel against Palestine. </p> <p>The university student has taken the first steps in launching legal action against the network, engaging with two of Australia’s foremost defamation lawyers in Patrick George of Giles George as his solicitor, and Sue Chrysanthou SC as barrister.</p> <p>Mr George confirmed he had sent a concerns notice to Seven, the first step in defamation proceedings.</p> <p>“We await a response from Seven,” Mr George told NCA NewsWire.</p> <p>Mr Cohen told <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/courts-law/student-wrongly-named-as-westfield-bondi-junction-killer-moves-to-sue-seven/news-story/f4c67b123e19cbf3d5a6a6bf39708ea8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em> earlier this week that he had been inundated with friend requests and messages on social media after being named by Seven, with the unwanted attention taking a toll on his mental health. </p> <p>“It’s just gone crazy, it’s like ‘look, you’ve got the wrong guy’,” Mr Cohen, a first year computer science student, told news.com.au.</p> <p>“People don’t really think too hard about what they’re posting and how it might affect someone. It’s very dangerous how people could just make stuff up and destroy people’s lives.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: news.com.au</em></p>

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Michael Slater hit with 19 charges over alleged domestic violence

<p>Michael Slater, a former Australian Test cricketer is being held in police custody after being charged with more than a dozen offences over alleged domestic violence. </p> <p>Slater, 54, had his case briefly heard in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Monday.</p> <p>It was reported by the <em>ABC </em>that he did not appear and no plea was entered.</p> <p>The charges include domestic violence offences of unlawful stalking or intimidation, breaking into a dwelling with intent at night, common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and choking or suffocation.</p> <p>The 19 charges relate to offences allegedly committed on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast between December 5, 2023 and April 12 2024.</p> <p>Slater was also charged with breaching bail and and 10 counts of contravening a domestic violence order. </p> <p>He was then remanded in custody, with his case mentioned in the same court on Tuesday afternoon.</p> <p>During that second hearing, Slater <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">collapsed in court after failing in his bid for freedom over an alleged domestic violence incident. </span>Upon learning that his bid for bail had been refused, the former cricket great placed his head in his hands then collapsed while being led back to the cells by Corrective Services staff.</p> <p>Slater made his debut during the 1993 Ashes tour and played 74 tests for Australia. </p> <p>He amassed 5,312 runs and played 42 one-day internationals. </p> <p>Since retiring from cricket in 2004, he has had a successful TV commentary career. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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"What has to happen?" Kyle Sandilands' controversial take after knife attacks

<p>Kyle Sandilands has shared his controversial opinion on arming security guards in the wake of two violent stabbing attacks in Sydney. </p> <p>On Saturday, six people were killed at the hands of Joel Cauchi who went on a stabbing rampage through Bondi Junction Westfield, while on Monday night, a teenage boy stabbed a bishop and a priest during a church service in western Sydney. </p> <p>One of Joel Cauchi's victims was Faraz Tahir, a security guard at the shopping centre, while another guard was injured during the rampage. </p> <p>In the days after the eastern suburbs tragedy, Kyle, who has a <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/kyle-sandilands-family-member-among-first-victims-stabbed-in-bondi" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connection</a> to one of the people injured during Cauchi's attack, launched into a tirade live on-air, calling for security guards to be given firearms. </p> <p>"I saw the [NSW] premier [Chris Minns] last night on TV saying firearms for security guards are not on the agenda. And I was like, 'Well, what has to happen before a security guard can actually secure the place for us?'" Sandilands raged. </p> <p>"Every shopping centre and every school should have armed security guards, trained specialists, not just some guy getting a little firearms licence. I mean, proper trained."</p> <p>Most retail security staff in NSW are unarmed, with batons classified as prohibited weapons that require special licensing and training. </p> <p>"There's people that work at Westfield, for example, women that work in shops that have told their husbands, 'I ain't never going back to Westfield. I'm never going back to work again'," Sandilands continued, adding that those retail workers are "traumatised forever" following Saturday's stabbings. </p> <p>Sandilands' opinions have been echoed by fellow controversial broadcaster Ray Hadley, who on Monday demanded on his 2GB Sydney radio show that security guards be armed across the state.</p> <p>"For years I've been arguing that all security guards in the state in hospitals and shopping centres should be better equipped," he said. </p> <p>"And these poor security guards, unarmed, unable to do what they should do - protecting the people that they are there to protect."</p> <p><em>Image credits: KIISFM</em></p>

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AFP commander resigns after drink driving accident

<p>Former Australian Federal Police commander Danielle Anne Woodward has resigned after she drunkenly crashed her car into a tree following a police function in Canberra.</p> <p>The Olympic medalist pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge in the ACT Magistrates Court after blowing nearly three times the legal limit in November 2023. </p> <p>Woodward had attended an end-of-year function on the night of the accident, and intended to walk home or catch an Uber, but felt unwell after drinking champagne, so she decided to take the short drive back home. </p> <p>However, she crashed into a tree on her way home causing “extensive front-end damage” to her Mercedes-Benz. </p> <p>After getting help from members of the public, she immediately reported the incident to her supervisor and told him she had alcohol in her system.</p> <p>She also reportedly co-operated with lower-ranking officials who attended the scene, with the defence saying that she was "frank in her submission". </p> <p>"She was certainly not belligerent," Woodward's lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith told the court. </p> <p>She was then arrested and taken to the police station for a breath analysis, which came back with a reading of 0.148. </p> <p>A police statement of facts also said that officers found Woodward with a flushed face and sleepy, watery eyes.</p> <p>“Police could smell a strong odour of intoxicating liquor emanating from [Woodward] and formed the opinion that [she] was well under the influence,” the statement of facts read. </p> <p>The court also heard that Woodward had been experiencing a "high level" of stress from her job, so had "at times resorted to alcohol, in a way she has been able to control."</p> <p>"The offending conduct is not only out of character … [but] her actions are usually the complete opposite. They're usually designed to benefit and protect the community," prosecutor Samuel Carmichael said.</p> <p>Woodward's lawyer asked Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker to record a non-conviction, as this was a "one off" offence, and the media coverage of the accident had already caused her "an unusual degree of reputational damage", which has impacted her mental health and career. </p> <p>While Magistrate Walker agreed to a non-conviction, she said that a general deterrence still needed to be served, with Woodward disqualified from driving for six months, taking into account a 90-day immediate suspension notice that was issued after the crash.</p> <p>The Chief Magistrate told the court: "What ultimately influences me … is Ms Woodward is a woman suffering from ill health.</p> <p>"It is often people of good standing in this community … who find themselves before the court for this type of offence."</p> <p>She also said that Woodward had shown “obvious and palpable” remorse, and was not someone who would ordinarily demonstrate “this level of stupidity”. </p> <p>Woodward was a highly decorated police officer who worked for the AFP for almost four decades. She became a commander in 2022 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002.</p> <p>In 2020 she was awarded the Australian Police Medal in the Australia Day honours. </p> <p>Prior to her role in the AFP, she was a a triple Olympian in slalom canoeing and won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. </p> <p><em>Image: ABC News</em></p>

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Prime Minister's extraordinary offer for "Bollard Man"

<p>Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made an extraordinary offer to the hero dubbed "Bollard Man", who confronted Joel Cauchi on his rampage through Bondi Junction Westfield. </p> <p>Damien Guerot, a French national, was inside the eastern suburbs shopping centre when Cauchi began his stabbing spree which resulted in six lives lost. </p> <p>In CCTV footage of the terrifying incident that has made the rounds online, Mr Guerot could be seen fending off the knifeman with the use of a bollard he’d picked up off the ground.</p> <p>It’s understood he was preventing the attacker from reaching an area where dozens of children had been playing.</p> <p>He was immediately hailed as a hero on social media, where he became known as “Bollard Man”.</p> <p>As the community continues to reel from the incident, Mr Albanese thanked Guerot for his "extraordinary bravery" and encouraged him to become an Australian citizen. </p> <p>“I say this to Damien Guerot, who is dealing with his visa application, that you are welcome here,” he said.</p> <p>“You are welcome to stay for as long as you like, this is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen.”</p> <p>The prime minister said the actions of bystanders like Mr Guerot during the horrific Bondi Junction attack showed “the best of human character”.</p> <p>“It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting onto another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens,” he said.</p> <p>Mr Guerot told <em><a href="https://7news.com.au/news/terrifying-moment-man-confronts-attacker-with-bollard-in-bondi-junction-shopping-centre-massacre-c-14307019" target="_blank" rel="noopener">7News</a></em> how he stared into Cauchi’s “empty eyes” as he confronted the killer.</p> <p>“We just saw him coming ... we were thinking, ‘We need to try to stop him’,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

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Judge finds Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins and dismisses Network 10 defamation case. How did it play out?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-clift-715691">Brendan Clift</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Bruce Lehrmann has lost his defamation suit against Channel Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson after the media defendants proved, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann raped his colleague Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.</p> <p>After a trial lasting around a month, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee – an experienced defamation judge – concluded that both Lehrmann and Higgins had credibility issues, but ultimately <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2024/2024fca0369">he was persuaded</a> that Lehrmann raped Higgins, as she’d alleged and he’d denied.</p> <h2>Criminal trials by proxy</h2> <p>Ordinarily, charges like rape would be resolved through the criminal courts, but Lehrmann’s criminal trial was <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-27/jury-discharged-in-trial-of-bruce-lehrmann-brittany-higgins/101583486">aborted</a> in October 2022 after juror misconduct. The charges against him were soon <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/courts-law/bruce-lehrmann-sexual-assault-charge-dropped-dpp-confirms/news-story/3f82dd388d2cfa38680f7d4f4ceb1c5e">dropped</a>, nominally over concerns for Higgins’ mental health.</p> <p>Higgins, however, foresaw civil proceedings and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/05/brittany-higgins-volunteered-to-be-defamation-trial-witness-as-she-would-not-let-rapist-become-a-millionaire-ntwnfb">offered to testify</a> should they arise. That they did, as Lehrmann, free from the burden of any proven crime, sued several media outlets for defamation over their reporting into the allegations (<a href="https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/online-files/lehrmann">the ABC</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/06/abc-agrees-to-pay-bruce-lehrmann-150000-to-settle-defamation-claim-court-documents-reveal">News Corp</a> both settled out of court).</p> <p><iframe class="flourish-embed-iframe" style="width: 100%; height: 550px;" title="Interactive or visual content" src="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/17195035/embed" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation"></iframe></p> <div style="width: 100%!; margin-top: 4px!important; text-align: right!important;"><a class="flourish-credit" href="https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/17195035/?utm_source=embed&amp;utm_campaign=visualisation/17195035" target="_top"><img src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/made_with_flourish.svg" alt="Made with Flourish" /></a></div> <p>Like Ben Roberts-Smith’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/dismissed-legal-experts-explain-the-judgment-in-the-ben-roberts-smith-defamation-case-191503">recent defamation suit</a> against the former Fairfax papers, this became another case of civil proceedings testing grave allegations in the absence of a criminal law outcome.</p> <p>The form of proceedings made for some key differences with the aborted criminal trial. In criminal cases, prosecutors are ethically bound to act with moderation in pursuing a conviction, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while defendants have the right to silence. By contrast, this trial featured detailed accounts from both sides as each sought to convince, in essence, that their contentions were likely to be correct.</p> <p>Also like the Roberts-Smith case, live streaming of the trial generated very high levels of public engagement. Today’s stream reached audiences of more than 45,000 people. It gave us the chance to assess who and what we believe, and to scrutinise the parties’ claims and the media’s reporting. The Federal Court doesn’t have juries, but we, the public, acted as a de facto panel of peers.</p> <p>We saw accusations and denials, revealing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-23/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-ten-lisa-wilkinson-ends/103260752">cross-examination</a> of the protagonists, witness testimony from colleagues, CCTV footage from nightclubs to Parliament House complete with lip-reading, expert testimony on alcohol consumption and consent, and lawyers constructing timelines which supported or poked holes in competing versions of events.</p> <p>The complexity of high-stakes legal proceedings was on display, with Justice Lee issuing many interim decisions on questions of procedure and evidence. Whenever transparency was at stake, it won.</p> <p>The preference for full disclosure led to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2024/apr/02/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-10-fresh-evidence-bid-lisa-wilkinson-brittany-higgins-delay-ntwnfb">case being re-opened</a> at the eleventh hour to call former Channel 7 producer Taylor Auerbach as a witness, providing a denouement that the judge called “sordid”, but which had little relevance to the final result.</p> <h2>An argument over the truth</h2> <p>Lehrmann had the burden of proving that the defendants published matter harmful to his reputation. That matter was Wilkinson’s interview with Higgins on Channel Ten’s The Project in which the allegations were made.</p> <p>A statement is only defamatory if it’s untrue, but in Australian law, the publisher bears the burden of proving truth, should they opt for that defence. And more serious allegations usually require more compelling proof, as the law views them as inherently more unlikely.</p> <p>This can be onerous for a defamation defendant, but it also involves risk for the plaintiff, should the defendant embark on an odyssey of truth-telling yet more damaging to the plaintiff’s image. That happened to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65717684">Ben Roberts-Smith</a> and it happened to Lehrmann here.</p> <p>On the other hand, if the media hasn’t done their homework, as in <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2023/2023fca1223">Heston Russell’s case</a> against the ABC (also presided over by Justice Lee), the complainant can be vindicated.</p> <p>This case was a manifestation of Lehrmann’s professed desire to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/26/how-bruce-lehrmanns-media-interviews-cost-him-his-anonymity-in-toowoomba-case">light some fires</a>”. Few players in this extended saga have emerged without scars, and here he burned his own fingers, badly.</p> <p>As Justice Lee put it, Lehrmann, “having escaped the lion’s den [of criminal prosecution], made the mistake of coming back to get his hat”.</p> <h2>How was the case decided?</h2> <p>Lehrmann denied having sex with Higgins, whereas Higgins alleged there had been non-consensual sex. The defamatory nature of the publication centred on the claim of rape, so that was what the media defendants sought to prove.</p> <p>This left open the curious possibility that consensual sex might have taken place: if so, Lehrmann would have brought his case on a false premise (there had been no sex), but the media would have failed to defend it (by not proving a lack of consent), resulting in a Lehrmann win.</p> <p>That awkward scenario did not arise. The court found sex did in fact take place, Higgins in her heavily-inebriated and barely-conscious state did not give consent, and Lehrmann was so intent on his gratification that he ignored the requirement of consent.</p> <p>Justice Lee found Lehrmann to be a persistent, self-interested liar, whereas Higgin’s credibility issues were of lesser degree, some symptomatic of a person piecing together a part-remembered trauma. The judge drew strongly on the evidence of certain neutral parties who could testify to incidents or words spoken in close proximity to the events.</p> <h2>Defamation laws favour the aggrieved</h2> <p>Australian defamation law has historically favoured plaintiffs and, despite recent <a href="https://www.ruleoflaw.org.au/civil/defamation/2021-law-reform/">rebalancing attempts</a>, it remains a favoured legal weapon for those with the resources to use it.</p> <p>This includes our political class, who sue their critics for defamation with unhealthy frequency for a democracy. In the United States, public figures don’t have it so easy: to win they must prove their critics were lying.</p> <p>In Australia, the media sometimes succeeds in proving truth, but contesting defamation proceedings comes at great financial cost and takes an emotional toll on the journalists involved.</p> <p>Nor can a true claim always be proven to a court’s satisfaction, given the rules of evidence and the fact that sources may be reluctant to testify or protected by a reporter’s guarantee of confidentiality.</p> <p>But this case demonstrates that publishers with an appetite for the legal fight can come out on top.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225891/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-clift-715691"><em>Brendan Clift</em></a><em>, Lecturer of law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/judge-finds-bruce-lehrmann-raped-brittany-higgins-and-dismisses-network-10-defamation-case-how-did-it-play-out-225891">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Teenage boy in custody after stabbing at Sydney church

<p>A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after he stormed a church service in Western Sydney and stabbed a bishop and a priest. </p> <p>The Orthodox Christian church service was being live-streamed from the suburb of Wakeley on Monday night and captured the moment Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel's sermon was interrupted by the teen, who allegedly stabbed him several times. </p> <p>Father Isaac Royel was also stabbed, with two parishioners also sustaining injuries as they subdued the teenager until police arrived. </p> <p>The bishop and priest were both taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. </p> <p>Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said the churchgoers did a "fantastic job" trying to calm the scene, but outside the church, an emotional crowd quickly built. </p> <p>NSW Premier Chris Minns chaired an urgent crisis control meeting with leaders from multiple faiths, all agreeing to a call for calm.</p> <p>When police arrived on the scene, the riot officers attempted to forcibly move the crowd away from the church, which led to violence against the officers. </p> <p>Police cars were smashed and two officers were taken to hospital after being injured by members of the crowd who broke into “a number of houses to gain weapons to throw at the police”.</p> <p>The 15-year-old, who was known to police, was arrested once officers gained access to the church and was taken to an undisclosed location for his own safety. </p> <p>Premier Minns later confirmed that the attack is being treated as a terror event, saying Police Commissioner Karen Webb had designated the stabbing a "terror incident" just prior to 2am. </p> <p>Chris Minns urged the community to keep calm and not perpetuate further violence, saying he and religious leaders “endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form, called for the community to follow first responder and police instructions and called for calm in the community”.</p> <p>“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” he said.</p> <p>The church said Bishop Emmanuel and a senior priest were in a stable condition and also appealed for calm.</p> <p>“We ask for your prayers at this time,” the church said in a statement posted on social media.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Nine News</em></p>

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If you squat in a vacant property, does the law give you the house for free? Well, sort of

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathy-sherry-466">Cathy Sherry</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>Nothing excites law students like the idea of a free house. Or alternatively, enrages them. It depends on their politics. As a result, academics condemned to teaching property law find it hard to resist the “<a href="https://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MelbULawRw/2011/28.html">doctrine of adverse possession</a>”. The fact that a person can change the locks on someone else’s house, wait 12 years, and claim it as their own, makes students light up in a way that the Strata Schemes Management Act never will.</p> <p>The idea of “squatters’ rights” has received a lot of media attention recently amid the grim reality of the Australian housing market. It fuels commentators such as Jordan van den Berg, who <a href="https://www.instagram.com/purplepingers/">critiques bad landlords</a> on social media. Casting back to his days as a law student, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/article/jordan-was-fed-up-with-australias-empty-houses-his-proposal-has-led-to-death-threats/stx6rv6fl">he’s promoting</a> the doctrine of adverse possession as a way of making use of vacant properties.</p> <p>As interesting as the doctrine is, it has little relevance in modern Australia. While it is necessary to limit the time someone has to bring legal proceedings to recover land – typically 12 or 15 years, depending on which state you’re in – most people don’t need that long to notice someone else is living in their house. If a family member is occupying a home that someone else has inherited or a tenant refuses to vacate at the end of a lease, owners tend to bring actions to recover their land pronto.</p> <p>So where did this doctrine come from, and what has it meant in practice?</p> <h2>Free house fetching millions</h2> <p>In unusual circumstances, people can lose track of their own land.</p> <p>Just before the second world war, Henry Downie moved out of his house in the Sydney suburb of Ashbury. Downie died a decade later, but his will was never administered. At the time of his death, a Mrs Grimes rented the house and did so for a further 50 years. Downie’s next of kin did not realise they had inherited the house or that they were Grimes’s landlord.</p> <p>Grimes died in 1998 and Bill Gertos, a property developer, saw the house was vacant. He changed the locks, did some repairs, then leased the house and paid the rates for the next 17 years. He then made an application under <a href="https://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/rpa1900178/s45d.html">NSW property laws</a> to become the registered proprietor. At this point, Downie’s next of kin became aware they may have been entitled to the property and disputed Gertos’s claim.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2018/1629.html">court held</a> Gertos had been “in possession” of the property since the late 1990s. The next of kin had a legal right to eject him, but they had failed to do so within the statutory time limit of 12 years. Gertos had the best claim to the house. He <a href="https://www.domain.com.au/6-malleny-street-ashbury-nsw-2193-2015821514">promptly sold it</a> for A$1.4 million.</p> <p>Outrageous as this may seem, the law encourages caring for land. If you fail to take responsibility for your land, and someone else does, you can lose it.</p> <h2>An old English tradition</h2> <p>Gertos’s jackpot was unusual, and adverse possession has always been more relevant in a country like England.</p> <p>First, for much of English history, many people did not have documentary title (deeds) to their land. People were illiterate, parchment was expensive, and documents could disappear in a puff of smoke in a house fire. The law often had to rely on people’s physical possession of land as proof of ownership.</p> <p>Second, as a result of feudalism, vast swathes of England were owned by the aristocracy. They and their 20th-century successors in title, often local councils, had a habit of forgetting they owned five suburbs in London.</p> <p>In the post second world war housing crisis, thousands of families, and later young people and students, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b017cfv4">squatted in vacant houses</a> owned by public and private landlords who lacked the means or motivation to maintain them.</p> <h2>A sign of the times</h2> <p>In contrast, in Australia, for most of our settler history, governments of all political persuasions actively prevented the emergence of a landed class.</p> <p>But now, courtesy of tax policies that <a href="https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/essay/2023/11/the-great-divide">encourage investment</a> in residential real estate, we have a landlord class of Baby Boomer and Gen X investors. That has caused housing market stress as younger people cannot make the natural transition from being renters to homeowners. They are outbid by older, wealthier buyers whose tax benefits from negative gearing increase with every dollar they borrow to buy an investment property.</p> <p>Money flowing into the market then means that landlords’ greatest benefit is capital gain rather than income, and thanks to John Howard, investors pay <a href="https://theconversation.com/stranger-than-fiction-who-labors-capital-gains-tax-changes-will-really-hurt-109657">no tax</a> on half of that gain.</p> <p>Finally, an almost exclusive reliance by government on the <a href="https://australiainstitute.org.au/post/for-more-affordable-housing-we-need-more-public-housing/">private sector</a> to provide new homes – which it will only do if it is making a profit – has left many people in deep housing stress.</p> <p>While squatters in Australia are likely to find themselves swiftly subject to court orders for ejection, van den Berg’s rallying cry indicates just how inequitable the housing market has become. Baby Boomers and Gen X should be on notice – young people want their housing back. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227556/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathy-sherry-466"><em>Cathy Sherry</em></a><em>, Professor in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-squat-in-a-vacant-property-does-the-law-give-you-the-house-for-free-well-sort-of-227556">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Peter Dutton defends comparing pro-Palestine rally to Port Arthur massacre

<p>Peter Dutton has doubled down on controversial comments he made comparing a pro-Palestine rally to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. </p> <p>The leader of the opposition sparked fierce criticism fort he remarks he made when discussing the rise of anti-Semitism in Australia as the Israel-Palestine war rages on. </p> <p>He compared a pro-Palestine protest that took place outside Sydney Opera House on October 9th, just days after the first attacks by Hamas, to the deadly massacre in Tasmania in which 35 people were killed which prompted major gun reforms in Australia under the Howard government.</p> <p>Dutton later repeated the comments, insisting Mr Howard’s response had been “strong” and claimed Mr Albanese has not done enough to stem the rise in anti-Semitism.</p> <p>The Opposition Leader appeared on <em>Today</em> on Friday morning where he again defended his comments when asked if he had gone too far with the comparison. </p> <p>“The point I was making, which is absolutely a legitimate one, is that I thought this was a time for the Prime Minister (Anthony Albanese) to show leadership and to step up,” Mr Dutton said.</p> <p>“I think, with John Howard, who stood up at a point of national importance for our country, demonstrated leadership and changed the course of history for the better. The Prime Minister has allowed this rise of anti-Semitism in our country.”</p> <p>“I don’t resile from that at all.”</p> <p>Mr Dutton’s fury was sparked by comments made by the Foreign Minister Penny Wong in her own speech earlier this week, which left the door open for Australia to back Palestinian statehood in the UN. </p> <p>“Penny Wong never went to cabinet with this proposal. It’s not agreed to by the Palestinian leaders here in Australia,” he said. </p> <p>Government Services Minister Bill Shorten then chimed in on the debate, arguing there was nothing new in Senator Wong’s comments as the war in Palestine continued to claim thousands of innocent lives. </p> <p>“Labor has had as its policy for a very long time, the whole time I’ve been a member of the Labor Party, support for a two state solution,” he told Nine. </p> <p>But he said it was a grave mistake to conflate Port Arthur with the “unacceptable” rise in anti-Semitism.</p> <p>“I think probably if he had his time again in the privacy of his own head, he would probably not do (that),” Mr Shorten said. </p> <p>“They’re two separate issues. Port Arthur was a shocking, murderous, evil act in Australia. And John Howard certainly spoke up about it."</p> <p>“I think Peter, you know, has got to make his point. That’s his job. But I think he should work with the Prime Minister to call out inflammatory language here.”</p> <p>Mr Dutton went on to clarify he was just trying to make a parallel between the two leaders’ responses. </p> <p>“John Howard stood up for our country at a time when he needed moral clarity. He did that he changed the course of history with gun laws,” he said. </p> <p>“That’s the parallel that I’m making to the absolute absence of leadership from the Prime Minister at the moment, which has given rise to those in the Jewish community talking about feeling unsafe in our country.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <div class="media image" style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: inherit; margin-bottom: 24px; display: flex; flex-direction: column; align-items: center; width: 705.202209px; max-width: 100%;"> </div>

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Property tycoon sentenced to death over $27 billion fraud

<p>A Vietnamese billionaire was sentenced to death on Thursday in one of the biggest corruption cases in history, an estimated $27 billion in damages - a figure equivalent to six percent of the country’s 2023 GDP. </p> <p>Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of embezzlement, after looting from one of the country's biggest banks, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for over a decade. </p> <p>“The defendant’s actions... eroded people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and state,” the verdict read at the trial in Ho Chi Minh City. </p> <p>After a five-week trial, 85 others were also charged for their involvement in the fraud, with charges ranging from from bribery and abuse of power to appropriation and violations of banking law. </p> <p>Four were given life imprisonment, while others received jail terms ranging between 20 years and three years suspended. Lan's husband was Hong Kong billionaire Eric Chu Nap Kee, was sentenced to nine years in prison.</p> <p>Lan and the others were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown.</p> <p>Lan was initially believed to have embezzled $12.5 billion, but on Thursday prosecutors have said that the total damages caused by the fraud now amounted to $27 billion. </p> <p>The property tycoon was convicted of taking out $44bn in loans from the bank, according to the <em>BBC</em>, with prosecutors saying that $27 billion of this may never be recovered. </p> <p>The court ordered Lan to to pay almost the entire damages sum in compensation. </p> <p>It is also <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68778636" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported</a> that she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime. </p> <p>“In my desperation, I thought of death,” Lan said in her final remarks to the court, according to state media. </p> <p>“I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment -- the banking sector -- which I have little knowledge of.”</p> <p>Police have identified around 42,000 victims of the scam, and many of them were unhappy with the verdict. </p> <p>One 67-year-old Hanoi resident told the AFP that she had hoped Lan would receive a life sentence so she could fully witness the devastating impact of her actions. </p> <p>“Many people worked hard to deposit money into the bank, but now she’s received the death sentence and that’s it for her,” they said. </p> <p>“She can’t see the suffering of the people.”</p> <p>The resident has so far been unable to retrieve the $120,000 she invested with SCB. </p> <p>Police have said that many of the victims are SCB bondholders, who cannot withdraw their money and have not received interest or principal payments since Lan’s arrest. </p> <p>Authorities have also reportedly seized over 1000 properties belonging to Lan. </p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p> <p> </p>

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New search commences for Samantha Murphy’s body

<p dir="ltr">A new search for the body of Samantha Murphy is set to take place on Thursday in the dense bushland in Victoria. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Ballarat mother, 51, went missing without a trace in February when she left home for her morning run and never returned. </p> <p dir="ltr">Since various sources came forward with fresh intelligence, authorities will lead a search through bushland in the Enfield State Park area, about 25km from Ballarat where she was last seen. </p> <p dir="ltr">"The search will focus on an area highlighted by intelligence derived from a number of sources," Victoria Police said in a statement on Thursday.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Since Samantha's disappearance over two months ago, a range of searches and other enquiries have been undertaken in the Ballarat area as part of this investigation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"This includes extensive large-scale searches such as we have planned this week, but also smaller targeted searches focused in very specific areas.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"I want to assure those in the Ballarat community that police remain focused on doing everything we can to return Samantha to her family."</p> <p dir="ltr">Police have urged members of the public not to join in the search, but assured concerned locals they will share updates on the search as they see fit. </p> <p dir="ltr">In March, 22-year-old Patrick Orren Stephenson was charged with Murphy’s murder, as police allege he killed Murphy while she was on a run through the Canadian State Forest, but have not publicly identified any further details of their case.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Nine</em></p>

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Sunrise rocked by allegation of "fraud"

<p><em>Sunrise</em> and the Seven Network have been rocked by an investigation by their biggest competitor, who exposed both allegations of "fraud", as well as threatening emails to a young journalist at Nine who was chasing the story. </p> <p>The scandal began when a reporter for the <em><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/new-seven-expenses-affair-rocks-sunrise-top-network-executives-20240408-p5fi6w.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sydney Morning Herald</a></em> was alerted to an investigation being conducted by an independent law firm into the Sunrise program. </p> <p>According to reports by Nine, the law firm began an investigation, which was also conducted by a financial and corporate auditor, into reports that Sunrise staff members had grossly misused travel benefits. </p> <p>The allegations claimed that a small number of Sunrise staffers, as well as some of their friends and family, had taken flights and stayed in hotels on trips not related to their work duties, using benefits provided to the network by Qantas as part of a multimillion-dollar advertising and sponsorship deal.</p> <p>When business reporter for the<em> Australian Financial Review</em> Zoe Samios, a publication owned by Nine, reached out to Seven’s long-time commercial director Bruce McWilliam to chase the story, she was allegedly met with threatening emails saying her probes into the allegations had caused Seven’s star executive producer Michael Pell to self-harm.</p> <p>“This is what your unfounded reports have caused Michael to do,” Mr McWilliam wrote to Ms Samios in October last year.</p> <p>Attached to the email was a graphic image of him, bloodied and in a hospital gown, with a noticeable head wound.</p> <p>“Why don’t you keep it up so he kills himself. You are a complete disgrace. That law firm you name didn’t conduct any investigation. If you publish untrue allegations … and he tops himself. It’s on you. We are determined to protect him,” the email read.</p> <p>Speaking exclusively to <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/sunrise-rocked-by-fraud-investigations-that-top-tv-exec-tried-to-keep-secret/news-story/4b755d82167f825140c63b6e07107745" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em> on Thursday as the investigations were made public for the first time, Mr McWilliam defended the email and said he was defending a colleague and “friend” against “false allegations”.</p> <p>However, several months before the email, Mr Pell had stepped down as the boss of Sunrise and was appointed Seven's Senior Vice President of Entertainment Content in North America, and he moved to Los Angeles shortly after.</p> <p>On Thursday, Mr McWilliam told <em>news.com.au</em> that he became incensed when Mr Pell’s name was linked to the investigation, prompting his fiery email to Samios.</p> <p>“The accusations against Michael were exaggerated,” he told <em>news.com.au</em>.</p> <p>“I make no excuse for having acted to protect a colleague, against whom false allegations were being made. Michael Pell has been a friend of mine for many years.”</p> <p>The newspaper subsequently agreed to kill the story over concerns for Mr Pell’s mental health and wellbeing.</p> <p>While the findings of the alleged expenses investigation were delivered to Seven and described as "serious", a source close to the investigation insists that while the accusations are significant, they do not constitute "fraud" in the legal sense. </p> <p>Despite that, it’s understood that a small number of staff left the network following the findings being delivered to Seven, with the staffers signing nondisclosure agreements upon their departure.</p> <p>The scandal's reemergence comes 18 moths after the initial allegations, as Seven finds itself in another controversy over its flagship current affairs program <em>Spotlight</em> and its handling of an exclusive interview with Bruce Lehrmann.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Sunrise</em></p>

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Millions of phones at risk of being cut off from calling triple-0

<p>Over a million Aussies may be unable to contact triple-0 as two major telcos cut their 3G networks. </p> <p>Telstra's network will be closed on June 30 this year followed by Optus, which will shut their 3G network in September.</p> <p>While most late model phones are now serviced by either 4G or 5G networks, there are many devices that still rely on 3G. </p> <p>Approximately 113,000 Telstra customers have not upgraded their 3G handsets, while Optus have not disclosed a figure.</p> <p>The greater concerns lie for older 4G-enabled handsets that may not be able to call triple-0 once the 3G networks are switched off, because of the way those phones are configured.</p> <p>In March, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland was informed that 740,000 Australians were in that category.  </p> <p>A month later, that figure was revised to over a million. </p> <p>"I welcome the industry’s first report to government but am concerned around their disclosure of around one million potentially impacted consumers,” the minister said. </p> <p>“I am considering the detail provided and next steps, and the government will have more to say about the 3G switchover soon.”</p> <p>She also said that they were open to delaying the switchover  "if warranted in the public interest”.</p> <p>“Options exist under law for the government to consider proposals to delay the planned switchover, subject to consultation and procedural processes,” she said.</p> <p>Telstra has informed customers about what to do if they are affected, and how they could check. </p> <p>“If your mobile device doesn’t have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, even if it uses 4G data, it will not be able to make voice calls on our network after 30 June 2024,” they informed their customers. </p> <p>“Not all VoLTE enabled devices support emergency VoLTE calling, meaning they will not be able to make an emergency call to triple-0 once 3G closes." </p> <p>“Without taking the recommended action you won’t be able to connect to a network after 30 June 2024,” they warned. </p> <p>Customers who are worried that they might be impacted, are encouraged to text 3 to the number 3498, so that the telco can inform the customer on their connection status.</p> <p>Optus have also encouraged customers to contact them if they think they may be affected. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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"You were our whole damn sky": Tributes flow after alleged murder of young teacher

<p>The family of a young teacher from Victoria are in mourning after the body of 23-year-old was found in a burnt-out car just hours after she was reported missing. </p> <p>Hannah McGuire was found near State Forest Rd in Scarsdale, an area near Ballarat surrounded by bushland, on Friday after her family had reported her missing just before. </p> <p>On Sunday, two young men were arrested over her death, and on Monday, a 21-year-old was charged with one count of murder.</p> <p>The young man is believed to be Hannah's ex-boyfriend, who had been living with Ms McGuire for about a year before their recent separation.</p> <p>Police will allege the man drove her body to a remote national park and set the car on fire, before posting a loving tribute on social media and telling her friends she had taken her own life. </p> <p>The man will appear in Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.</p> <p>As news of Hannah's untimely death broke, her parents shared a heart-wrenching tribute to their daughter on Facebook. </p> <p>Her parents run the National Hotel in the regional town of Clunes, and shared their tribute on their business Facebook page to inform patrons that the pub will remain closed until Wednesday. </p> <p>"Thank you everyone for your love, support and kind words. Our hearts are broken," the post read."</p> <p>"You weren’t just a star to us. You were our whole damn sky. Miss you Princess!"</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-hannah-mcguire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe</a> page has been set up by the Clunes Cricket Club supporting McGuire’s family, and has already raised over $45,000. </p> <p>“As a community we send our deepest love and condolences to Glenn, Debbie, Jude and Fletcher,” the club said.</p> <p>“Hannah was known by many as a bright young woman and had a heart of gold.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / GoFundMe</em></p>

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"Out-of-touch" Project stars slammed over clash with renter advocate

<p>Social media users have slammed <em>The Project </em>hosts,  following their recent interview with a renter advocate who encourages Aussies struggling with the housing crisis to squat in empty homes. </p> <p>Jordan van den Berg,  founder of the S*** Rentals website shared a video over the weekend outside a rundown house in Chadstone, Melbourne, saying: “Are you sick of rich people hoarding empty houses during a housing crisis? I know I am." </p> <p>“Here’s how you can do something about it.” </p> <p>He then encouraged people to submit information on empty homes in their suburbs via a form on his website, which he plans to promote on his socials so those struggling to find a home could squat in them. </p> <p>“Fun fact – squatting in Australia is not necessarily illegal, which is the best type of legal, especially if the front door doesn’t actually lock," he said. </p> <p>On Monday, he appeared on The Project to talk about his controversial plans, and was grilled by the show's hosts. </p> <p>“I know we’re in a pretty serious housing crisis, but do you really think encouraging people to squat in private properties is the way to fix it?" asked co-host Sarah Harris. </p> <p> “Let me answer your question by asking you a question. Do you think it’s right we have thousands of vacant, abandoned homes while we have people living on the street?” van de Berg replied. </p> <p>Harris said she didn’t and asked whether the solving the housing crisis should be focused on policy instead.</p> <p>Later in the interview, panellist Steve Price casted his doubts on whether there actually were a lot of vacant homes, but van de Berg replied that he'd received over 300 submissions from Aussies about empty homes in their suburbs. </p> <p>van de Berg also said that desperate people are even squatting in abandoned properties, and added: “If someone needs a house, they can reach out to me and I’ll send them [details about] an empty home."</p> <p>Harris was shocked that people would “basically camp out in abandoned houses with no power" which van den Berg argued that “camping out inside” was likely better than sleeping on the streets or in a park.</p> <p>Co-host Waleed Aly then asked whether van de Berg  was encouraging people to break the law, but he pointed out that squatting – done properly – isn’t technically illegal.</p> <p>The interview has been slammed on social media, with Writer and comedian John Delmenico posting on X: “Watching the rich out-of-touch panel on the Project realise in real time that not everyone is rich is so bizarre.</p> <p>"Especially the part where Pingers has to explain that being in a house is safer than sleeping on the street. How do they host the news with no connection to reality?”</p> <p>Others agreed mocking the panellists’ shock that “shelter without electricity is better than no shelter with no electricity”.</p> <p>“She was laughing at the fact that ppl would camp out in abandoned houses with no power/water, until he put her in her place by reminding her they’re better off camping under shelter than outside. Mic drop moment," one wrote. </p> <p>“Homelessness exists … it’s quite a big problem actually," another added. </p> <p>However, a few others agreed with the <em>Project</em> hosts. </p> <p>“Encouraging people to squat, who does he think he is?" one wrote. </p> <p>“He thinks he’s doing a good thing, but he’s given absolutely no critical thought to the implications of encouraging people to take over ‘empty homes’," another added. </p> <p>Leo Patterson Ross, chief executive of the Tenants Union of NSW, said that van den Berg was “drawing attention to issues that government should be acting on”.</p> <p>“In the middle of a housing crisis with growing levels of homelessness, we should be looking to ensure homes are not left vacant,” Patterson Ross said.</p> <p>“If a person leaves a property unattended and empty for 12 years, then I think many of us would agree it seems fair that the community can reclaim usage to provide a home, whether that be individuals or government.”</p> <p><em>Image: The Project</em></p>

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"I haven’t seen someone that terrified": CCTV of brave schoolgirl after attempted abduction

<p>A chilling incident has shaken the quiet streets of Doncaster East in Melbourne's east, reminding us of the importance of vigilance and community support in ensuring the safety of our children.</p> <p>Depicted clearly in heart-wrenching <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/cctv-emerges-of-schoolgirl-who-hid-in-bushes-during-attempted-abduction-in-doncaster-east-melbourne-c-14243163" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CCTV footage</a> that surfaced recently, an 11-year-old girl's brave escape from a potential abduction has sent shockwaves through the neighbourhood.</p> <p>On March 28, the young girl was making her way home from school along Landscape Drive when a grey Audi Q3 SUV made an abrupt U-turn, pulling up dangerously close to her. The driver, a male stranger, allegedly demanded her to enter the vehicle.</p> <p>But the brave young girl, instead of complying with the stranger's demands, made a split-second decision that possibly saved her life; she sprinted away, seeking refuge in nearby bushes as the car ominously circled back.</p> <p>The harrowing moments that followed were captured on CCTV as the girl, trembling with fear, looked back at the street, her only lifeline a stranger passing by. It was a local dad, accompanied by his own daughter, who extended a helping hand to the distressed child. Recalling the encounter, he described the girl's sheer terror:</p> <p>“She was shivering and shaking and I haven’t seen someone that terrified and petrified like that,” he told 7NEWS. And when the young girl kept apologising to him over and over for asking him to escort her home, he responded: “I said: ‘I’m so proud of you, getting help is a really good skill’.” </p> <p>Meanwhile, the girl's parents, undoubtedly consumed by anguish, expressed their profound gratitude to the stranger who intervened in their daughter's moment of peril. Their daughter, though physically unharmed, had endured a trauma no child should ever have to face.</p> <p>As authorities launched a manhunt for the assailant, details of the suspect emerged. Described as a man in his 30s, of Middle Eastern descent with distinctive features including tan skin, black hair and a prominent beard, the perpetrator remains at large. A computer-generated image has been released by Victoria Police in hopes of eliciting information from the public.</p> <p>In the aftermath of this chilling incident, Detective Senior Constable Brooke Miller echoed the sentiments of the community: “It’s horrible," he said. "A little girl should feel safe to walk home from school.”</p> <p><em>Images: Victoria Police</em></p>

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