February 5, 2024

Australia news LIVE: Stage 3 tax cuts to benefit the majority of Australian workers; Ben Roberts-Smith defamation appeal begins

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Police investigate Jacob Elordi run-in with Kyle and Jackie O producer

By Karl Quinn

NSW Police are investigating an incident between Brisbane-born Hollywood actor Jacob Elordi and a producer for Kyle and Jackie O, after an attempted prank staged for the FM radio duo’s show went awry on the weekend.

The alleged incident occurred on Saturday at the Clovelly Hotel, where Elordi had spent the afternoon with friends.

Brisbane-Born Hollywood star Jacob Elordi.Credit: Chris Pizzello

As he left the premises, Elordi was accosted by Joshua Fox, a producer for the stunt-filled breakfast show, which is expanding to Melbourne at a date yet to be confirmed. The exchange between the men soon turned sour after Fox refused to delete camera footage as per Elordi’s request.

“Officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command are investigating after a man was allegedly assaulted outside a hotel in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs,” NSW Police said in a statement. “Police were told about 3.30pm on Saturday 3 February 2024 a 32-year-old man was allegedly assaulted by a 26-year-old man. The man did not sustain any injuries.

“Inquiries into the incident are continuing.”

Read the full story by Karl Quinn here.


Missing swimmer feared dead as Victoria’s drowning toll breaks record

By Lachlan Abbott

In Victoria, a 20-year-old swimmer is feared dead after he was caught in a rip off a Mornington Peninsula beach last night, potentially adding to this summer’s high drowning toll, which already broke records last month.

Three friends in their 20s were swimming at a beach on the Bass Strait side of Rye when two of the men got into trouble in the water, Victoria Police Acting Inspector Dean Delle-Vergini said.

“One of the males was able to get out, and unfortunately, [the other] got washed away with the rip,” Delle-Vergini said. A female friend watched the incident unfold from the beach.

A Life Saving Victoria spokesman said on Monday that 14 people have drowned in Victoria in January – double the five-year average and more than any other January since detailed records began in 2000.

A total of 22 people have drowned since December 1, but that toll may change as coronial investigations pinpoint a cause of death. Eighteen people had drowned over the same period last summer.

Read the full story by Lachlan Abbott here.


Two men dead after 4WD plunges off cliff

By Heather McNeill

Turning to Western Australia, where two young men have died and another was injured after the car they were in plunged off a cliff on Sunday morning.

Police said the Nissan Patrol fell off a cliff on a private property near Horrocks Beach, about an hour north of Geraldton.

The cliff was estimated at 20 to 30 metres high.

The third man survived the fall and was found wandering on a road looking for help. He was taken to Geraldton Health Campus and remains in stable condition.

Read the full story by Heather McNeill here.


Incoming WA senator has ‘big shoes to fill’, says PM

By Olivia Ireland

Albanese has announced the newest member of the Labor Party caucus, WA Senator Varun Ghosh, a former barrister chosen to fill the Senate vacancy left by Pat Dodson.

Ghosh joined the Labor party in Perth aged 17. He has an honours degree in law and arts from the University of Western Australia and a masters in law from Cambridge University in the UK.

Incoming Senator for WA Varun Ghosh with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Albanese said Ghosh, an accomplished lawyer and the son of Indian immigrants who moved to Australia in the 1980s, was the embodiment of aspiration and a welcome addition to the party’s WA caucus.

“Varun … you will be a great voice for WA, and I was so pleased to support your candidacy and I say this as well, you’ve got big shoes to fill,” he said, paying tribute to Dodson, who resigned because of his recent treatment for cancer.

Albanese said Dodson, who he described as the “father of reconciliation”, would be honoured again in parliament tomorrow.


Opposition struggling to find a position on tax cuts, Albanese says

By Olivia Ireland

Staying in Canberra with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has accused the opposition of failing to reach a position on the government’s reformed stage 3 tax package.

Speaking to the Labor party room, Albanese said the opposition had “struggled now for two weeks to come up with a position”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese campaigning in the Victorian seat of Dunkley on the weekend.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui

“Our opponents have had a few positions, not sure what this is today. First they said they were against [tax cuts], they hadn’t seen it, but they were against and then they said they would reverse it, they’d roll it back. What that would mean of course is additional tax for some 12 million Australians,” he said.

“It’s their natural instinct of course … they have no positive plan, nothing positive to offer the country, which is why they are defined by just being the opposition, not being an alternative.”

He also took the opportunity to again criticise opposition leader Peter Dutton’s call for a boycott on Woolworths ahead of Australia Day.

“That sort of opportunistic shoot from the hip comment, that isn’t worthy of an alternative prime minister.”


PM’s stage 3 tax plan met with applause at Labor caucus meeting

By Olivia Ireland

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is speaking before the Labor party room during the party’s caucus meeting in Canberra.

Spruiking the government’s reformed stage 3 tax package, Albanese is met with a round of applause as he says every taxpayer will get a tax cut under the revised plan.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“These tax cuts that we will put into the parliament tomorrow are good economic policy, but they also will make an enormous difference,” he said.

“[Opposition Leader Peter Dutton] can’t say that there’s cost of living pressures on low and middle income earners and then refuse to do anything about it.

“What we have done is make not an easy decision, we’ve made a right decision at the right time for the right reasons.”

Albanese said the government was yet to achieve its mission of relieving the cost-of-living burden facing Australians, but figures released last week revealing inflation had dropped to 4.1 per cent showed things were “heading in the right direction”.

“Every taxpayer deserves a tax cut, and we’re going to give it to them.”


Read: Penny Wong’s full statement

By Olivia Ireland

In a formal statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says the death sentence imposed on Yang Hengjun has been “harrowing” and she is moved by the academic’s strength.

Wong’s statement acknowledges the acute distress Dr Yang’s family would be feeling after many years of uncertainty.

“This period has been extraordinarily difficult. Like so many Australians, I am moved by Dr Yang’s strength, and the strength of his family and friends,” the statement says.“The Australian Government will be communicating our response in the strongest terms.”

“We will continue to press for Dr Yang’s interests and wellbeing, including appropriate medical treatment, and provide consular assistance to him and his family.

All Australians want to see Dr Yang reunited with his family. We will not relent in our advocacy.”


Australian Yang Hengjun may appeal against China death sentence

By Olivia Ireland

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has been advised Yang Hengjun could have avenues to appeal after two years if he does not commit any serious crimes during that period.

“I’m advised that Dr Yang still has avenues for appeal available to him,” she said.

Wong also said the decision to speak publicly instead of resolving the diplomatic case behind closed doors was due to the nature of the sentence.

“Our judgment was that the nature of this sentence was such that it was important for us to speak publicly and directly from me,” she said.

“Ahead of those representations being made in private, as you know we seek to conduct our engagement with other countries. Recognising there are times you speak privately and there are also times we have to make our position very clear publicly and today is one of them.”

Read the full story by North Asia correspondent Eryk Bagshaw here.


‘Appalled’ Wong stops short of recalling ambassador from Beijing

By Olivia Ireland

Australia will not consider recalling Australia’s ambassador from Beijing, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says.

Foreign Minister Penny WongCredit: Alex Ellinghausen

“More broadly about the relationship, I have said stabilisation means we co-operate where we can, disagree where we must and we engage in the national interest,” she said.

“I would make the point this is a decision within China’s legal system. Clearly this is an occasion on which we disagree. However, Australia will continue to advocate for the interests of Dr Yang.

“I do not step back from what I said at the outset, which is that the Australian government is appalled by this decision.”


Detained Australian’s medical needs must be met, Wong demands

By Olivia Ireland

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says the government will not relent in advocating for Yang Hengjun, who has previously requested medical parole.

“The Australian government has advocated for Dr Yang with China at every opportunity and at the highest levels. We have consistently called for basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment for Dr Yang,” she said.

“Australia will not relent in either advocacy for justice for Dr Yang’s interests and wellbeing, including appropriate medical treatment, and we will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family.”

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