Two actors that worked alongside Geoffrey Rush during a 2015-16 theatre production have backed the actor accusing Rush of “inappropriate behaviour”. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported ($) yesterday that the Sydney Theatre Company had received a complaint after Rush starred in King Lear. A follow-up story published ($) this morning quotes social media posts from actors Meyne Raoul Wyatt and Brandon McClelland that express support for the person who made the complaint. In a tweet that has since been deleted, McClelland wrote “It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It wasn’t a joke”, while Wyatt posted on Facebook that “I was in the show … I believe (the person who) has come forward”. An STC spokesperson said “the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr Rush notified or involved in any investigation”. Rush’s lawyer said his client “denies having been involved in any ‘inappropriate behaviour’ whatsoever”, and had not received “any details, circumstances, allegations or events that can be meaningfully responded to”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abruptly ordered a royal commission into the banking sector after the chairs and CEOs of Australia’s four largest banks publicly called for one. Abandoning 18 months of opposition, which he reiterated on Tuesday, Turnbull said “speculation about an inquiry cannot go on”. In a letter sent to Treasurer Scott Morrison yesterday, the heads of the Big Four banks said a royal commission was “in the national interest for the political uncertainty to end”. A push by Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan to create a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banks was set to pass both houses of parliament with the support of Labor and most of the crossbench. Attention will now turn to the commission’s draft terms of reference and which “distinguished serving or former judicial officer” the government appoints as commissioner. Labor figures have expressed skepticism that the royal commission will be given the powers it needs to fully explore wrongdoing in the industry, with former treasurer Wayne Swan saying it “sounds like the terms of reference have been written by the banks”.
The Family Court has ruled transgender teenagers no longer need to go to court to access hormone treatment. Until the ruling, Australia was the only country in the world requiring teens with gender dysphoria to undergo a lengthy, expensive and “distressing” legal process to obtain hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone. The Family Court has never refused such an application, and approved about 60 cases since 2004. Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Anna Brown said the verdict “will make a profound difference to the lives of many young trans people”.
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has resigned from his shadow ministerial positions after a leaked recording exposed his support for the Chinese government’s position on the South China Sea. Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Dastyari’s “mischaracterisation of how he came to make comments contradicting Labor policy made his position untenable”. Speaking on earlier revelations that Dastyari had warned a Chinese businessman that his phone may have been bugged by Australian intelligence agencies, Attorney-General George Brandis said Dastyari “took deliberate steps to undermine or subvert what he believed might be an intelligence investigation”. It is the second time Dastyari has been demoted for perceived political and financial ties to Chinese Communist Party donors, embarking on a lengthy image rehabilitation tour after accepting payments from a Chinese-linked company last September.
And overseas, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised United States President Donald Trump for retweeting debunked, racist viral videos from UK fascist group Britain First. The videos, with titles such as “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” and “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”, have been proven to be deliberately misleading or outright false, but were retweeted by Trump after being posted by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen. A spokesperson for May said “Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions”. Trump responded aggressively by mistakenly tweeting “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” at @theresamay, a private account that belongs to a woman named Theresa Scrivener. Brendan Cox, the widower of a Labour MP who was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016, said Trump “has legitimised the far right in his own country” and “should be ashamed of himself”.