FRIDAY, Jan 29
Betting irregularities on the Australian of the Year Awards have been referred to the national criminal intelligence agency amid allegations a winner’s name leaked ahead of the announcement.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who has responsibilities for the agency that will look into the matter, said the allegations were serious and needed to be investigated.
The National Australia Day Council (NADC) confirmed a News Corp report that it made the referral on the day the winners were announced.
“The NADC has been concerned about betting on the Australian of the Year Awards for a number of years and spoken to authorities about having these markets shut down,” a spokesperson said.
“The NADC referred betting on this year’s Australian of the Year Awards to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission for investigation on Monday, January 25.”
Mr Dutton said he had spoken to Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Mike Feelan and was confident he could investigate the issue.
“Australians enjoy a bet but they want to make sure that when they’re placing a bet that it’s on a fair market that it’s not rigged, that it’s not corrupt, and there are allegations
Tasmanian sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame was named the 2021 Australian of the Year, beating other candidates including former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy and the former commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons.
There is no suggestion a finalist was involved in the alleged leak. Finalists are not aware of the outcome of the awards until the winners are announced.
The winners were decided in December and around 180 people, including staff, contractors and those involved in the broadcast of the event, signed non-disclosure agreements.
“The NADC requires all staff, contractors and broadcast partners who need to be advised of winners before the national announcement to sign non-disclosure agreements,” the NADC spokesperson said.
“This agreement has a specific non-betting clause.”
Long before Donald Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden last November, rumours swirled over how long his third marriage would last when he eventually exited the White House.
Melania Trump was “counting down the minutes” until she could divorce her 74-year-old husband, according to former aides, “friends” and even Mr Trump’s niece, while others declared the former model had “checked out”, mentally and emotionally, from her role as First Lady and her “very strange marriage”.
While Mr Trump held on to power as his presidential term came to an end, fighting tooth and nail for weeks and claiming that election fraud was behind Joe Biden’s stunning and historic election victory, the 50-year-old was focused on orchestrating a swift exit from Washington DC.
And yet, as they settle into life as (somewhat) private citizens at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, news.com reports those in the couple’s “inner orbit” insist that Mrs Trump will be standing by her man, who she married 16 years ago in a splashy $US2.5 million wedding.
“The likelihood is 99.99 per cent they will stay together. I’d truly be shocked if Melania formally separated and divorced from her husband,” a “friendly acquaintance” of the Trumps, society publicist R Couri Hay, told The Times.
“She grew up in a pseudo-communist difficult life. When she married, she wanted stability, romantic stability, financial stability, and through it all the one thing still standing is that marriage.”
Former aide and friend of the Slovenian native, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, has also spoken of what Mrs Trump may have sought from Mr Trump when the pair first met – describing their marriage as “transactional”.
“Donald got arm candy, the Vogue cover legitimised Melania which legitimised Donald as well, and Melania got two dynamic decades,” Ms Wolkoff, who released an expose on her relationship with the mother-of-one last year, told BBC’s Newsnight.
Australia’s wet summer is set to stretch into autumn with above-average rainfall and hotter nights forecast for most of the nation over the next three months.
The weather bureau said La Nina had past its peak but still remained active, which meant rainfall totals were likely to be higher from February to April, particularly in northeast Queensland.
Senior climatologist Felicity Gamble said there was also an increased risk of widespread flooding in eastern and northern Australia.
She said an average to above-average number of tropical cyclones and tropical lows were expected for the remainder of the northern wet season.
“But models suggest La Nina is likely to break down during autumn with a return to neutral conditions by winter,” Ms Gamble said.
“The rainfall signal starts to weaken in April, consistent with the expected decay of La Nina.”
Along with wetter months, the weather bureau has also forecast hotter nights for almost all of Australia and warmer than average daytime temperatures in Tasmania and much of the nation’s coastline.
Ms Gamble said the Australian summer had so far been cooler and wetter than usual for most of the country, but the potential for bushfires and heatwaves remained.
She said an active La Nina and warmer waters to the north and west of Australia had contributed to the recent above-average rainfall across parts of the country.
February to April is expected to be wetter than average. “Summer rainfall to date has been mostly above average with three cyclones in the Australian region and several tropical lows bringing widespread rainfall to much of the country,” she said.
“On January 18, severe storms in southeast Queensland brought more than 100mm in less than an hour to East Brisbane.
“But on the west coast, southern Western Australia has had a relatively dry summer so far with ongoing bushfires.
“Daytime temperature have generally been close to or cooler than average for the summer to date, but far western Western Australia has seen some persistent heat.”
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