The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will release its final report today after adjourning for the last time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten sat alongside hundreds of survivors, advocates, lawyers and community leaders in the Royal Commission’s Sydney offices yesterday, as chief commissioner Robert McLellan gave the closing address. McLellan said it was “the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused”, and that “the tragic impact of abuse for individuals and, through them our entire society, demands nothing less”. Survivors gave McLellan, counsel assisting Gail Furness and other commissioners a standing ovation. Social services minister Christian Porter, however, was criticised for going to the third Ashes cricket test in Perth with former prime minister John Howard instead. The Royal Commission’s 21-volume final report will be handed to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove today.
The National Australia Bank has announced it will cease lending money to new thermal coal projects, becoming the first major bank in Australia to restrict lending to the fossil fuel industry. While NAB will continue to fund existing coal projects, the bank said the move would begin “the orderly transition to a low carbon economy”. Environmentalists welcomed the decision, with Greenpeace calling it “an enormous win for our movement and our planet”. Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, meanwhile, called NAB’s announcement “a contemptible and cowardly decision” that “speaks volumes about the malaise within Australia's ‘leadership’ elite”.
Entertainment giant Disney will buy large parts of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a US$52 billion merger. The 20th Century Fox film studio will come under the Walt Disney Studios umbrella, and Disney will assume control of brands such as The Simpsons, National Geographic, the X-Men franchise and streaming service hulu. Fox Broadcasting, including the conservative Fox News channel, will be spun off into a standalone company over which Murdoch will retain control. Murdoch and his family will receive a 4.25 per cent stake in Disney, which is planning to launch its own streaming service to compete with Netflix.
Voters in the northern Sydney seat of Bennelong go to the polls tomorrow, potentially deciding the fate of the Turnbull government as the Liberals’ John Alexander attempts to hold off a challenge from former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally. The campaign has been marked by accusations of anti-Chinese racism and overshadowed by the foreign interference scandal that forced the resignation of a Labor senator representing New South Wales in Canberra, Sam Dastyari. Polls have suggested a tight race, while Chinese-language newspapers and posts on Chinese-language social media sites have encouraged members of Bennelong’s substantial Chinese-Australian community to vote for Keneally. She said she was “not ruling anything in or out after the polls come in on Saturday night”, including a return to a presenting role on Sky News or filling the Senate vacancy left by Dastyari’s resignation.
In the United States, music producer Russell Simmons has been accused of rape by multiple women, in a continuation of the sexual assault and harassment scandal that has rocked American film, television, music and politics. Speaking to The New York Times, four women accused Simmons of sexual predation in the 1980s, 1990s and in 2014. The women worked with Simmons in a professional capacity while he was running Def Jam Recordings, the music label he co-founded in 1983, which helped cement rap and hip-hop’s place in popular culture. The women said his power and influence over the music industry discouraged them from coming forward and, in some cases, stymied their careers. Simmons denied the allegations through his lawyer.
And the US Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal net neutrality provisions, allowing internet service providers to legally control customers’ internet speeds and website access for commercial reasons. The ruling strikes down regulations classifying the internet as a public utility, which prohibited ISPs from restricting or throttling what customers could access through their networks. Online companies Reddit, Etsy, Apple and Netflix opposed the ruling, while tech giants Facebook, Microsoft and Google have largely stayed silent on the issue. Although Americans overwhelmingly support net neutrality, the FCC’s three Republican appointees voted to repeal the Obama-era provisions.