Daily News Roundup

February 22, 2018

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is continuing to fight for his job, giving a series of media interviews to defend his conduct and rallying local Nationals branches behind him. Mr Joyce is officially on leave this week — but the political furore sparked by his affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion has barely abated, and the Nationals leader has been busy hitting the phones to shore up support. He and Ms Campion have now also given their first interview about the saga. Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media the couple had endured malicious attacks on their relationship, and said it was time for the public and politicians to “move on” from the story.

“This should be a very simple story — a bloke whose marriage broke down is in a relationship with another person and they are having a child,” Mr Joyce said. “Now it seems to have gone into some sort of morality discussion. That’s between me and my God.” Mr Joyce said the relationship remained a fundamentally private issue. I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they’re having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there.” He also expressed concerns his new son would “grow up as some sort of public display”. “The one thing that has deeply annoyed me is that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children,” Mr Joyce said.

 

South Australia’s Labor Party has pledged $100 million to provide interest-free loans to put solar panels and batteries into private homes — a policy similar to one announced by the SA Liberals in October. If re-elected, Labor will offer more than 10,000 homeowners access to loans of up to $10,000 to install panels, batteries, or both. The loans would be interest-free for the first seven years.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the initiative would see power bills drop. But Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the Labor Party was just playing catch-up. In October, the Opposition released its own energy policy including a $100 million scheme that would provide grants of about $2,500 per household across 40,000 dwellings.

 

Mobile phones have been seized and crime scenes established as detectives investigate whether school students who suffered suspected drug overdoses on the Gold Coast bought the drugs online. Paramedics were called to Saint Stephen’s College at Upper Coomera on Wednesday afternoon after teachers noticed the boys were unaware of their surroundings and nauseous. Seven boys aged 14 and 15 were taken to hospital in varying levels of consciousness — four in a critical condition.

Detectives from the Gold Coast Child Protection and Investigation Unit are heading up the investigation. It is not clear when toxicology results will be returned. Inspector Tony Wormald said the students had taken something they should not have. “There’s a number of different types of drugs that it could be … once we find out the toxicology coming back from the hospital we’ll be able to make a better determination,” he said.

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