Daily News Roundup

April 11, 2019

Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case
Image: NME.com

Thursday April 11

A Federal Court judge has labelled the actor at the centre of accusations of inappropriate behaviour against Oscar winning actor Geoffrey Rush, as “unreliable” and has found Mr Rush had been defamed by the Nationwide News, publisher of The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Rush has now been awarded $850,000 in aggravated damages.

Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney said Nationwide News failed to prove the imputations published in two articles in late 2017 were true.

In his judgement today, Justice Wigney found the actor at the centre of the accusations against Mr Rush, Eryn Jean Norvill, was an unreliable witness, prone to “exaggeration and embellishment”.

He said Ms Norvill’s evidence was not credible or reliable and contradicted by other members of the cast during the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season of King Lear, when the incidents reported by The Daily Telegraph were alleged to have occurred.

This was, in all circumstances a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind,” he said.

Mr Rush launched the proceedings last year.

His legal team argued the imputations conveyed by the articles included that he was a “pervert”, a “sexual predator” and had engaged in “scandalously inappropriate” behaviour in the theatre.

Justice Wigney said The Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathan Moran failed to adequately research the stories before they published.

“This is a sad and unfortunate case,” he said.

Mr Rush sat in court with his wife Jane Menelaus and showed little emotion as a lengthy summary of the judgement was read out.

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Australia goes to the polls on May 18 to decide whether Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition or Bill Shorten’s Labor Party will form the next federal government.

The Prime Minister told the nation of the date after an early morning visit to the Governor General.

Mr Morrison said voters had a “clear choice” between the Coalition and Labor’s handling of the economy, adding that as new Liberal Party rules were in place regarding the leadership, voters could be confident he would remain PM if he won.

“If you vote for me you get me. If you vote for Bill Shorten you get Bill Shorten”, he said.

The PM said it had taken five years to repair the economy Labor left behind when it lost government in 2013.

“Now is not the time to turn back,” he said.

“Keeping our economy strong is how we secure your future and your family’s future.

“Keeping our economy strong ensures that we can secure your wage, your job, your business and, importantly, the business you are going to work for today.”

A brief ceremony outside Parliament House prorogued the 45th Parliament at 8:29am.

The Governor-General then dissolved the Parliament at 8:30am, which cancelled the Senate Estimates hearings that were due to commence at 9am.

Bill Shorten, on Twitter, said it was “ready to deliver a fair go for Australia”.

In making his pitch to voters, Mr Morrison channelled former prime minister John Howard and the “who do you trust” campaign slogan he made famous during the 2004 election.

“So the choice to be made by Australians on May 18 is like it always is at every election, and that is, who do you trust to deliver that strong economy which your essential services rely on?” Mr Morrison said.

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All but one member of New Zealand’s Parliament has voted to change gun laws, less than a month after deadly shooting attacks on two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people.

The gun reform bill, which passed 119-1 after its final reading in parliament, must now receive royal assent from the Governor-General before it is expected to become law on Friday.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with 50 counts of murder after the attack on two mosques on March 15.

The new curbs bar the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a certain capacity, and some shotguns.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke emotionally during the bill’s final reading of the traumatic injuries suffered by victims of the Christchurch terror attacks.

“I struggle to recall any single gunshot wounds,” Ms Ardern said.

“In every case they spoke of multiple injuries, multiple debilitating injuries that deemed it impossible for them to recover in days, let alone weeks.

“They will carry disabilities for a lifetime, and that’s before you consider the psychological impact. We are here for them.”

The law includes a buy-back scheme under which owners of outlawed weapons can surrender them to police by September 30 in return for compensation based on the weapon’s age and condition.

More than 300 weapons had already been handed in.

Anyone who retains a banned weapon after the law formally passes on Friday faces a penalty of up to five years in prison.

The only dissenting voice was from the libertarian ACT Party’s sole MP, David Seymour.

He questioned why the measure was being rushed through.

“If you’re going to make a law with urgency, there better be a damn good reason, otherwise people deserve a say,” he previously told reporters.

But last week when he was speaking to the press about his objections to the speed of the bill, he missed being in Parliament to vote to slow down the process.

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Switzerland plans to abolish the nation’s emergency stockpile of coffee, which has been in place for decades, after declaring the beans are not vital for human survival.

Switzerland has long stockpiled emergency staples like sugar, rice, oil and coffee in case of war, disaster or epidemics for almost 100 years.

The system was established between World War I and World War II

Nestle, the maker of instant coffee Nescafe, and other importers, roasters and retailers are required by Swiss law to store bags of raw coffee.

The country stockpiles other staples, too, such as sugar, rice, edible oils and animal feed, the Government announced on Wednesday.

This system of emergency reserves was established between World War I and World War II as Switzerland prepared for any potential shortages in case of war, natural disasters or epidemics.

According to the plan released for public comment, coffee stockpiling obligations would expire by the end of 2022, with companies free to draw down what they store in their warehouses.

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