Daily News Roundup

November 8, 2018

Image: ABC News

THURSDAY, November 8

An ABC journalist has confirmed an incident involving NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley at a Christmas party in 2016, the ABC reports..

In a statement, reporter Ashleigh Raper said Mr Foley placed his hand down the back of her dress and inside her underpants.

Ms Raper said she did not wish to make a complaint, but was forced to make a statement after the incident was raised under parliamentary privilege in both Sydney and Canberra.

A separate statement from the ABC said the corporation considered it extremely unfortunate that media and public pressure had been applied to Ms Raper and caused her to speak publicly on an issue she did not wish to pursue or to comment on.

Ashleigh Raper (ABC News)

Mr Foley has previously described the claims as “lies” and challenged his opponents to repeat the claims outside Parliament.

Ms Raper said there were three things she wanted from her decision to release a statement.

“First, women should be able to go about their professional lives and socialise without being subject to this sort of behaviour. And I want it to stop,” she said.

“Second, situations like mine should not be discussed in Parliament for the sake of political point scoring.

“And I want it to stop.

“Third, I want to get on with my life.”

Ms Raper said Mr Foley called her last Sunday and apologised, saying he was remorseful and had wanted to talk about the matter many times over the past two years.

She said he told her that while he had been drunk on the night and couldn’t remember all of the details, he knew he had done something to offend her.

Ms Raper said Mr Foley told her: “I’m not a philanderer, I’m not a groper, I’m just a drunk idiot.”

She said Mr Foley told her he would resign either Monday this week or Wednesday, but could not do so on Tuesday as he would be accused of “burying the story” on Melbourne Cup Day.


Within hours of losing control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump clashed with a reporter and fired his top law enforcement officer, writes the ABC’s North American correspondent Stephanie March.

She said any hopes yesterday’s midterm result would lead to a less divisive atmosphere had faded fast.

The sacking of Attorney-General Jeff Sessions doesn’t come as a surprise

The timing — a day after the midterms — is no accident.

The President was furious when Mr Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russia’s possible meddling in US elections and collusion with the Trump campaign, paving the way for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

At a press conference this morning Donald Trump went on a familiar tear about the probe.

“It should end because it is very bad for our country … and they should look at the other side also,” he told reporters.

Mr Sessions’s chief of staff — Matthew Whitaker — has been appointed Acting Attorney-General.

In the past Mr Whitaker has called for limits to be put on the Mueller investigation saying any investigation into Mr Trump’s finances is going too far.

“So I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced … and that (new) attorney-general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt,” Mr Whitaker said in a CNN interview in July 2017.

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer has warned “any attorney-general … should not be able to be able to interfere in the Mueller investigation in any way. They should not be able to end it. They should not be able to limit it”.

Earlier this year when Republicans held a slim majority in the Senate, the judiciary committee introduced legislation that would make it harder for Mr Mueller to be fired. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Republicans are now on track to expand on their Senate majority after yesterday’s elections, potentially making any effort to pass such a bill even harder.

It’s tipped to be someone more sympathetic to the President’s cause.

The timing comes as little surprise — it’s understood Mr Trump has wanted to get rid of Mr Sessions for months but that he’d been advised doing so could have a negative impact on Republicans fighting in tight races in the midterms.

The sacking comes as Mr Trump braces for an expected barrage of investigations into him and his administration now that Democrats have control of the House. They now have subpoena power over things like Mr Trump’s tax returns and have indicated they are willing to use it.

Mr Sessions was one of Mr Trump’s earliest supporters. He backed the President despite the barrage of attacks and in his resignation letter thanked Mr Trump for the opportunity to serve.

His loyalty went unrewarded — Mr Trump reportedly left it to his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, to tell Mr Sessions the President wanted him to step down


A Pakistani Christian woman recently saved from a death sentence for blasphemy against Islam has been released from prison into protective custody.

The mother-of-five, whose conviction was reversed last week by the Supreme Court, has been taken to a secure location for fear of attacks.

After being freed she was flown to the airport near the capital, Islamabad, but was in protective custody because of threats to her life, according to three officials who did not want to be named, an ABC report revealed.

Troops guarded the roads leading to the airport from which she departed.

Bibi’s lawyer — who fled the country this week and sought asylum in the Netherlands — confirmed she was no longer in prison.

“All I can tell you is that she has been released,” lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said.

She was arrested in 2009, with the blasphemy accusations following a quarrel with two female farm workers who refused to drink from a water container used by a Christian.

A few days later a mob accused her of insulting Islam’s prophet and in 2010 Bibi was convicted.

Bibi’s family has always maintained her innocence and says she never insulted the prophet.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumour of doing so can incite lynchings.

Christians, who make up only about 2 per cent of the country’s population, are sometimes discriminated against.

Protests by hardline Islamists prompted the government to impose a travel ban on Bibi until her case is reviewed.

While Ms Bibi faces threats of death and violence in her home country, the Italian Foreign Ministry has begun working to help relocate her and her family.

Ms Bibi’s case has been closely followed in Italy for years, and Pope Francis met earlier this year with her family in a show of solidarity


The telltale sound of a brushtail possum on the roof may be annoying for some, but the discovery of the species in WA’s north is a sign that the eradication of foreign predators has been successful, says the ABC’s Laura Meachim.

A brushtail possum was pictured in Kalbarri National Park, 485km north of Perth, in the first documented sighting of the species in northern WA.

It was caught on a remote sensing camera, used to monitor black-flanked rock wallabies that were reintroduced to the park last year.

Brushtail possums are common in WA’s south-west but there are very few records of the species existing north of Geraldton.

Kalbarri National Park senior ranger Mike Paxman said it was an unexpected discovery.

“We were going through the camera data and one of our staff members spotted the brushtail possum,” he said.

“It was quite exciting for us, we did not actually know that brushtails occurred in the park.

“Obviously they have survived here for a long time, always been here but I guess their presence went totally unknown.”

The sighting comes after extensive work to reintroduce the black-flanked rock wallaby to the park.

To do so the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions needed to eradicate predators like feral cats, foxes and wild goats using an extensive baiting and culling program.

It means native species are able to thrive without the threat of being killed or having their natural food source depleted.

Mr Paxman said while the park was monitored more extensively now, it was a sign that more than 20 years of fox and cat baiting had been successful.

“Obviously now we are monitoring things better, we’ve got better information and we are observing things a lot more than we did on an ongoing basis,” he said.

“But certainly the baiting program has helped the survivorship of the possum and the black-flanked rock wallaby, which still survives in the park.”

“I think in the absence of that baiting, the possum would have died out because of predation by foxes predominantly.”

This daily news roundup has been curated with stories from the ABC News.

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