Porter and lawyer ordered to pay costs

Christian Porter and his barrister Sue Chrysanthou have been ordered to pay $430,200 in legal costs to a friend of the woman who accused the former attorney-general of raping her 30 years ago.

What we know:

  • Dyer had asked the Federal Court to stop Chrysanthou from acting for Porter in a defamation case against the ABC last year over the reporting of rape allegations (The Guardian); 
  • Dyer successfully argued there was a conflict of interest because she had raised relevant issues in an earlier meeting with Chrysanthou before she had joined the case (ABC); 
  • Porter then dropped his case against the ABC, but nevertheless challenged the decision to force Chrysanthou off the case;
  • On Wednesday, national judicial registrar Tim Luxton found that Dyer was entitled to costs of $430,200 as part of a lump-sum payment, and it applied to both Chrysanthou and Porter;
  • Dyer in December announced her intention to run as an independent for the marginal Liberal-held SA seat of Boothby (Women’s Agenda); 
  • Dyer is one of a host of female independents challenging for Coalition seats at the upcoming election (The Saturday Paper). 
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Booster shot reduced to three months

The minimum interval for a booster shot will be reduced to three months in Victoria, NSW, SA and the ACT, as the states shore up defences against Omicron.

What we know:

  • Victoria, SA and the ACT will reduce the interval from four to three months immediately, while NSW will make the change on Friday (The Guardian); 
  • The booster shot vastly improves vaccine efficacy in preventing infection, hospitalisation and death;
  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are recommended for booster shots, regardless of which vaccine recipients had for the first two doses (ABC); 
  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the number of industries with third dose vaccine mandates in place was likely to grow as eligibility expanded;
  • Anyone who has Covid-19 is allowed to get a booster as soon as symptoms ease, but it is reasonable to wait at least three months after recovery to get one (The Conversation).
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Palmer to run for Senate

Clive Palmer has announced his return to politics, running as a United Australia Party candidate for a Queensland senate seat.

What we know:

  • Palmer, who has denied for months he will re-enter the political arena, vowed the United Australia Party would run the most expensive political campaign in Australian history (Brisbane Times); 
  • The billionaire vowed to take High Court action against the Queensland government if his unvaccinated status meant he would be excluded from pubs, cafes and clubs and other popular campaign venues;
  • The 67-year-old baselessly claimed he did not need to be vaccinated because he was healthier and slimmer than during his previous foray into politics;
  • Palmer is embroiled in a criminal case after being charged with fraud and dishonest use of his position as a company director of Mineralogy;
  • He is also is suing the WA premier Mark McGowan in the Federal Court for defamation;
  • Text messages between McGowan and WA Attorney-General John Quigley about Palmer’s border challenge can be aired publicly at trial, a court ruled on Wednesday (North West Star). 
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Morrison shifts blame on RATs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced criticism over his call for states to ease rules that force employers to require daily virus tests for millions of workers.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Morrison called for employers to only use RATs daily for essential workers in areas like health and aged care (The Age). 

A NSW government spokesperson said there was no blanket requirement that employees submit to daily testing.

ACTU national secretary Sally McManus argued that the government should boost test supplies rather than telling companies to use them less often.

“The best way forward is for him to step up and provide RATs to employers and the community, because being stubborn about the issue is just going to make the whole thing worse,” McManus said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Morrison had “months to prepare for this” and should make RATs free to keep the economy running.

Morrison blamed the more infectious Omicron as reason for his failure to order more tests.

It comes as Royal Prince Alfred Hospital clinical director Paul Torzillo attacked “politically driven” directives from state and federal health departments (SMH).

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Super rich call for tax hike

More than 100 billionaires and millionaires have issued a call for governments to “tax us now” to help pay for the pandemic response.

The “Patriotic Millionaires” group said that the wealthy were not paying their share to help the global economic recovery (Reuters). 

“While the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic – yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes," an open letter by the group read.

The call coincides with the launch of the World Economic Forum’s “virtual Davos”.

Signatories including heiress Abigail Disney and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer told Davos participants, “You’re not going to find the answer in a private forum... you're part of the problem.”

A spokesperson for the World Economic Forum said paying a fair share of taxes was one of the forum’s tenets.

Over the two years of the pandemic, the fortunes of the world's 10 richest individuals have risen to $1.5 trillion – or $15,000 a second.

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I didn’t make a statement that every single person was, who is in that place, was not a refugee. I said that was to my understanding the case with some people who were there.

Like a babushka doll of lies, Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies that two days ago he falsely claimed the detainees locked up in a Melbourne hotel weren’t genuine refugees (The Guardian).

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Postscript: Wikitrivia

Wikitrivia is a game where you try to sequence Wikipedia articles in chronological order (Wikitrivia).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.