Scandals continue to swirl around Energy Minister Angus Taylor, with key developments in the grasslands inquiry and the doctored documents saga. A Senate committee on Wednesday found Taylor “consciously used his position as an MP and minister” to try to influence an investigation into clearing of grasslands at a property he part owned, reports Guardian Australia. The committee recommended that Prime Minister Scott Morrison order an inquiry into the actions of the minister and treasurer Josh Frydenberg, concluding it was “inconceivable that Mr Taylor was unaware that he and his family stood to benefit directly from his actions”. In a dissenting report, Coalition senators said the evidence showed Taylor had “acted appropriately”. The news comes as Liberal staffer Josh Manuatu was on Wednesday identified as the person who obtained doctored documents used by Taylor to attack Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Government sources told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Manuatu would not lose his job over the matter. Taylor said he has established “an administrative point of contact” with police investigating the matter.
Witness J: The ABC has reported on the reasons for the secret arrest and trial of “Witness J”, who was convicted without any media reporting or public scrutiny. A former military intelligence officer, “Witness J” is a Duntroon graduate who served in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. While undergoing a revalidation of his security clearance, there were some anomalies in his answers, which led to concerns about his conduct as a single man in the South-East Asian capital in which he was posted. This coincided with a mental health crisis, with the ABC told that he was infuriated by the accusation, and complained internally via email and other unsecure electronic means, in correspondence that identified agents. His employer said “Witness J” had breached secrecy provisions. John Dowd, a former NSW Liberal leader, attorney-general and Supreme Court judge, questioned the need for such tight secrecy. “Society has to be very careful in the circumstance in which we hold limited-publicity trials and it's important that we know the extent of such trials and the reasons for them,” he said.
Trump leaves early: United States President Donald Trump cancelled a planned news conference scheduled to follow the NATO meeting in London on Wednesday, after video of other world leaders mocking him emerged. “When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” he tweeted. “We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days.” Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” for being one of the leaders caught on camera joking about him. The developments come as three constitutional lawyers testified at Trump’s impeachment hearing that his actions toward Ukraine were the worst examples of misconduct in presidential history.
Trip to the sun: NASA has released the first data from a probe that travelled closer to the sun than any satellite before. The data showed that energetic particles which hurtle out from the sun are more varied and numerous than previously thought. Scientists are hoping to better understand this phenomenon as these outbursts can affect the global power grid, telecommunications and other satellites.