Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will deliver a national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse by the end of the year. Speaking on Thursday, Turnbull said he would use today’s Council of Australian Governments meeting to urge all premiers and chief ministers to commit to implementing a national redress scheme that would financially compensate survivors and elicit formal apologies from the institutions in which they were abused. “As a nation we must mark this occasion in a form that reflects the wishes of survivors and affords them the dignity to which they were entitled as children,” he said.
The Daily Telegraph has claimed ($) Nationals Senator Matt Canavan created a paid position on his staff for the former Barnaby Joyce employee who is now pregnant with Joyce's child. The newspaper alleges the staffer was moved to Canavan's office after knowledge of her relationship with Joyce caused personal tensions in Joyce's office. It also claims Diana Hallam, Joyce's former chief of staff, quit due to her closeness with Joyce's wife Natalie and the deputy prime minister's refusal to resolve the relationship and the dysfunction it caused in his office.
A preventive HIV medication will likely be approved for federal subsidy today, marking a major milestone in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Truvada, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), prevents the user from contracting HIV with up to 99 per cent effectiveness. The drug has proven popular among gay men, but its prohibitive cost currently restricts its availability outside of government-approved clinical trials. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee will today decide whether to include the drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, increasing its availability and likely dramatically reducing new transmissions of HIV. Health minister Greg Hunt has supported the move, saying “if [PBAC] does recommend PrEP we will list it and list it quickly”.
Actor Geoffrey Rush has successfully suppressed The Daily Telegraph’s legal defence against defamation charges brought by the actor, preventing documents associated with the defence from being publicly released. Rush filed defamation proceedings against the newspaper in December over an article alleging he engaged in “inappropriate behaviour” during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2016. Richard McHugh SC, Rush’s barrister, argued that the article’s front page headline imputed far more than the substance of the article, saying “how anyone could describe the headline ‘King Leer’ as a fair way of reporting an unsubstantiated complaint like that is not a serious argument that can be put”.
In The Netherlands, the International Criminal Court has begun a preliminary examination of a complaint accusing Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity. The complaint, filed in April 2017 by lawyer Jude Sabio and Filipino politicians Antonio Trillanes IV and Gary Alejano, accused Duterte of “repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously” undertaking mass murder while executing his “war on drugs”. At least 7000 people have died in the “war”, many in vigilante killings or suspicious circumstances. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte welcomed the news as he was “sick and tired of being accused”, and would “argue his case personally and face the ICC” if required.
And the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics begin tonight. Australian snowboarder Scotty James will lead Australia’s 51-strong contingent in the opening ceremony, with snowboarding and skiing shaping up as Australia’s most likely medal chances. A total of 168 Russian athletes competing in the Games are not officially representing their nation or bearing Russian colours, instead competing as “Olympic athletes from Russia”. The country was banned from PyeongChang by the International Olympic Committee after a report found the Russian government participated in a “systematic and institutionalised cover-up” of its state-sponsored doping program. Watch the opening ceremony on Channel Seven from 8.30pm AEDT here.