New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley has resigned the leadership after an ABC journalist released details of an alleged sexual assault committed against her in 2016. In a statement released through the ABC on Thursday, Sydney reporter Ashleigh Raper said Foley “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants” at a parliamentary Christmas function in the Sydney CBD. Raper said Foley “said he was sorry and that he was full of remorse for his behaviour towards me” during a phone call on Sunday, during which Foley “said he would be resigning as the leader of the NSW Labor Party” this week. In a follow-up call on Tuesday, Foley apologised again, but said “he’d received legal advice not to resign as opposition leader”.
Raper noted in her statement that Liberal politician David Elliott “raised the matter in the NSW Parliament last month, putting the incident in the public domain”, and that “this occurred without my involvement or consent”. She said that “situations like mine should not be discussed in parliament for the sake of political point scoring”. Speaking at a brief press conference, Foley said the allegations were “false” and that he intended to sue for defamation, but said he could not “fight to clear my name and fight an election at the same time”. Foley also said he intended to remain the state member for Auburn.
In the United States, 12 people have been killed in a mass shooting at a southern California bar. Former US Marine Ian David Long entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in the city of Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles, on Wednesday night local time, throwing a smoke bomb into a crowd of college students and opening fire with a .45 Glock pistol. Among the dead were students of nearby Pepperdine University, attendees of two 18th birthday parties, and sheriff’s sergeant Ron Helus, a law enforcement veteran of nearly three decades who was due to retire within a year. Taking right-wing online conspiracy theorists as sources, several media outlets incorrectly described the shooter as “a Middle Eastern man with a beard”.
Melbourne man Jaymes Todd has admitted to raping and murdering comedian Eurydice Dixon in June. Appearing via video link in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday, Todd pleaded guilty to single counts of murder, rape, attempted rape and sexual assault. Todd handed himself in to police the day Dixon’s body was found in a Carlton North park. Dixon’s murder prompted vigils around the country, with thousands of people gathering near where her body was found to demand political action on violence against women.
The competition watchdog has approved the planned merger between Nine and Fairfax, paving the way for the creation of Australia’s largest media company. In a statement on Thursday, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said the merger “was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act”. Sims pointed to the rise of smaller online publications as evidence that “significant new entry into the Australian online news market has already occurred and made a noticeable difference”. The journalists and actors’ union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, described the decision as “a body blow to media diversity”, claiming the merger “is anti-democratic, and any public benefit is outweighed by the public detriment”.
And a Sri Lankan student acquitted of terrorism charges has hit out at police and the media, saying he was wrongly arrested “because I'm an Asian on a student visa”. Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen was arrested in August and accused of writing a list planning terror attacks across Sydney and assassination attempts against senior politicians. Nizamdeen was released after being held in jail for more than a month after investigators concluded the handwriting on the list could not be his. Describing the police conduct in his case as “completely immature, unprofessional, irresponsible, embarrassing, and biased”, Nizamdeen said he “had no contact with the outside world for six days, which is a violation of basic human and fundamental rights”. Nizamdeen also condemned media coverage of his arrest, including The Daily Telegraph describing him as a “poster boy for terror”. “Nowhere in the world would you have the media circus which followed my wrongful arrest,” Nizamdeen said.