Alan Jones accused of indecent assault

Radio broadcaster Alan Jones has been accused of indecently assaulting multiple young men, with his legal representatives emphatically denying the allegations.

What we know:

  • Jones is alleged to have used his position of power to prey on a number of young men, indecently assaulting them, groping or inappropriately touching them without their consent (SMH); 
  • In response to media questions sent to Jones, law firm Mark O’Brien Legal said in a statement: “Our client denies ever having indecently assaulted the persons referred to in your letter, and your suggestion that he has is scandalous, grossly offensive and seriously defamatory of him”;
  • A former 2GB employee, who alleges he was repeatedly indecently assaulted by Jones, said: “If I went to the police, Jones could be charged. What he did to me was a criminal offence. He cannot die without people knowing what he’s done.”
  • In the years before his death, businessman Alexander Hartman made allegations to four journalists about Jones, including: “I was his prey … I know I am not the only one and this will come out somehow … he forces himself on young men and uses his power in a predatory way”;
  • A third man, who was a young waiter at the time, alleged a drunk Jones grabbed his penis in a restaurant;
  • A fourth man, an aspiring musician, described being “scared shitless” when Jones allegedly pounced on him and began kissing him;
  • Once one of the most influential broadcasters in the country, Jones left 2GB in 2020 citing health reasons, after major advertisers fled in droves in the wake of an angry tirade about then New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (SMH); 
  • Jones in recent years has attempted to resurrect his career on an online platform to the right of Sky News (The Saturday Paper).

National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732

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Preventative detention law passed

The federal government has passed new laws to allow the preventative detention of non-citizens convicted of serious violent or sexual offences who cannot be deported.

What we know:

  • The House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted 68 to 59 in favour of the laws (Canberra Times); 
  • Courts will be able to order non-citizens convicted of serious violent or sexual offences who cannot be deported to a potentially indefinite period of preventative detention if satisfied to a “high degree of probability” that there is an “unacceptable risk” the person will reoffend (The Guardian); 
  • Sanmati Verma, the acting legal director of the Human Rights Law Centre, said that “the government and opposition want us to believe that the only way to keep the community safe is to surveil or imprison every single one of this group of migrants and refugees for the rest of their lives”;
  • The laws only apply to people who are not Australian citizens, and Australians with the same criminal histories and risk profiles will not be subject to preventative detention, likely prompting a fresh High Court challenge (The Conversation); 
  • Four of 148 non-citizens have been arrested after being released, one for indecent assault, one for stealing luggage, one for cannabis possession, and one for breaching his reporting obligations (ABC). 
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Staffer complained about Lehrmann

A colleague of Brittany Higgins has told the federal court she raised Bruce Lehrmann’s treatment of Higgins weeks before her alleged rape.

What we know:

  • Former Liberal media adviser Nicky Hamer told the defamation trial related to coverage of the sexual assault allegtions — which Lehrmann has vigorously denied — that three weeks before the night Higgins claims Lehrmann raped her, Lehrmann said he thought Higgins was “good-looking” and asked Hamer to invite her to the pub for a drink (The Guardian); 
  • Hamer said she was so angry about Lehrmann grabbing Higgins’ phone in an attempt to stop her calling an Uber to leave the pub that she resigned from Senator Linda Reynolds’ office hours later;
  • Another Liberal staffer, Lauren Gain, gave evidence about drinking with Higgins and Lehrmann on the night leading up to her alleged rape in Parliament House (SBS); 
  • Gain said she recalled Higgins being so drunk that she fell over and was helped back up by Lehrmann, and that they were “quite touchy with one another”, kissing and putting their hands on each other’s thighs;
  • Lehrmann has previously told the court he was verbally flirtatious, but had no physical contact with Higgins;
  • It is the latest inconsistency in a trial defined by an inability to recall key details and testimony that is contradicted by other evidence (The Saturday Paper); 
  • It comes amid revelations that News Corp paid $295,000 to settle Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case over an interview with Brittany Higgins, while the ABC paid $150,000 to settle a separate case (SMH). 

National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732

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States to share disability services bill

The federal government has reached a $10.5bn deal with the states and territories to split the cost of disability services outside the NDIS in exchange for further GST funding.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside premiers and chief ministers, announced a three-year extension of the GST “no worse off” guarantee from 2027-28 agreed to in national cabinet (The Guardian). 

The agreement compensates states and territories for GST shortfalls, meaning they receive at least 70% of revenue collected within their borders, with the extension to cost $10.5bn over the three years.

In return the states and territories will finance additional disability services outside the NDIS program on a 50-50 funding model in order to meet an agreed growth rate cap of 8% from 2026.

A comprehensive review of the NDIS will be released today, and is expected to call for better funding of the foundational supports “ecosystem” so that Australians with less severe disabilities do not need to join the scheme.

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Greens secure new gas hurdle

Unconventional gas production will require new approvals from the Commonwealth, under a deal struck between Labor and the Greens.

In a deal to secure Greens support for biodiversity legislation, Labor has agreed to expand the water trigger to apply to a broad range of unconventional gas projects, including shale gas (ABC). 

The water trigger ensures that projects are assessed by the Commonwealth for their impact on water supplies, when it previously only applied to coal seam gas projects.

“This was a big win for the environment, a big win for nature and a blow to the big gas companies,” said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

In return, the Greens will back Labor’s Nature Repair bill, which paves the way for landholders to earn tradeable credits for promoting native habitat and species, with the Greens securing an amendment to remove offsets from the scheme.

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Blaming the producers of oil and gas for climate change is like blaming farmers for obesity. It’s our societal consumption that is the issue.

Crescent Petroleum CEO Majid Jafar, one of a record number of fossil fuel executives lobbying at the COP28 climate conference to increase societal consumption of oil for decades to come, only wishes there was something he could do to reduce the societal consumption of oil (CNBC).

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Postscript: NSW council hands reins to ‘vigilante elf’ after Christmas tree fail goes viral

The council of a New South Wales holiday town says it will stop decorating a community Christmas tree after this year's effort was described as “absolutely pathetic”. Resident and “vigilante elf” Adam Fitzroy said the tree was “reminiscent of a spider doing its business and letting it run down”, and has formed a committee that will handle Christmas decorations in Forster from next year (ABC).

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