Daily News Roundup

February 23, 2021

 

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 23 

Police have found the bodies of two people after a fire tore through a townhouse in Browns Plains on Brisbane’s southside on Monday morning.

The remains, recovered from the extensively damaged residence last night, are believed to be of a man and a woman, both aged 49, who have been missing since the blaze engulfed the home on Moyla Street.

The Courier Mail identified them as Doreen Langham and her ex partner Gary Hely.

Preliminary investigations indicate the fire was deliberately lit and a crime scene has been established.

Autopsies will be conducted to determine the identities of the deceased.

Police said the man and woman were previously in a relationship and a domestic violence order was issued by the Beenleigh Magistrates Court earlier this month.

The Courier report said a woman from the complex where the fire broke out said she heard a woman screaming a man’s name moments before the building exploded in flames.

Others were reported as saying they heard the sounds of arguing and glass breaking before a loud explosion.

Investigations are continuing into the circumstances of the fire, and the nature of their relationship.

Police said the woman resided in the unit, with property listings for the secure complex saying it had 24-hour video surveillance.

Emergency services were called to the home around 4:00am Monday, when it took fire crews 30 minutes to contain the blaze.

Police are working to determine the events leading up to the fire and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

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People on the JobSeeker unemployment benefit could get an extra $25 per week under a federal government plan to permanently increase the payment.

The boost will take the total allowance to $307 per week.

The government temporarily increased the dole during the COVID-19 crisis, but that supplement is due to end in a month’s time.

Labor, the Greens and a broad coalition of business and welfare groups have long been calling for a permanent boost, arguing the dole has not increased in real terms in more than 20 years.

In addition to the payment increase, the plan includes a rise in the threshold before benefits start to taper off.

That means recipients will be able to earn more before their payments are decreased.

The Coalition party room is discussing the proposal today.

Cabinet and the government’s Expenditure Review Committee have already approved the plan.

The increase in JobSeeker follows the removal of the coronavirus supplement — a top-up payment for more than a million welfare recipients.

That decreased from $125 per week to $75 per week on January 1 and it will disappear entirely on March 31.

It was as high as $275 per week between April and September.

On Tuesday morning, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the current rate — before the mooted increase — was not enough to live on.

“It’s important there be a permanent increase, and that that be done as a matter of urgency to provide certainty to people,” he said.

He declined to name the size of increase that Labor would support, saying only that he would respond to the government’s announcement.

“We don’t have a chance to change the figure today, or next week, or next month,” he said.

“What we have to do is consider what our approach would be as an alternative government.”

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The US Supreme Court has rejected former president Donald Trump’s effort to conceal his financial records from prosecutors, ending a years-long legal battle and paving the way for a grand jury to see his tax returns.

Mr Trump had petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay on a lower court ruling, which was issued on October 7 last year.

That ruling required the former president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena compelling it to turn over eight years of Mr Trump’s tax records to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Mr Vance’s office has been investigating Mr Trump’s company, the Trump Organisation, for evidence of financial crimes.

Today the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, rejected Mr Trump’s request without comment and with no noted dissents.

“The application for a stay presented to Justice Breyer and referred to the court is denied,” its one-sentence order declared.

Mr Vance, a Democrat, reacted to the decision with a similarly brief statement.

“The work continues,” he said.

Last September, Mr Vance’s office warned Mr Trump’s lawyers it would move to enforce the subpoena immediately after the then-president’s legal options were exhausted.

“We anticipate that the Supreme Court, after briefing, will deny your request for interim relief, at which point our office will be free to enforce the Mazars subpoena, regardless of whether your client decides to continue to seek certiorari,” it wrote.

Today, Mazars said it remained “committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations”, suggesting it would comply with the subpoena.

Mr Trump is the only modern president to refuse to publicly release his tax records. Starting in the 2016 election campaign, and continuing until the end of his presidency, Mr Trump said he could not release them until the Internal Revenue Service was finished auditing them.