Good morning, this is James Murray bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Wednesday 27 May.
An Israeli court has ruled that alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer can be extradited to Australia. The former Melbourne headteacher is wanted on 74 sexual assault charges. The pivotal ruling comes six years after Australian police first filed an extradition request, and follows dozens of hearings and setbacks in a dramatic court saga in Jerusalem that has deeply strained relations between Israel and Australia. “I decided to accept the expert panel’s opinion: she’s fit to stand trial,” Judge Chana Miriam Lomp said of a psychiatric board recommendation from January that accused Leifer of faking mental illness to avoid extradition. Dassi Erlich, one of three Australian sisters who have accused Leifer of abuse during her time as principal of a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school, said she had “too many emotions to process”.
Australian law firms plan to launch a strip-search class action against NSW police. The Redfern Legal Centre and Slater and Gordon will announce on Wednesday the start of formal investigations into the possibility of a landmark class action over alleged “systemic” misuse of strip-searches in the past six years. The actions comes amid horrific stories of the misuse of strip-searches, “including from children as young as 10 years old who were directed to strip naked, squat and cough, lift their genitals, and have a police officer look into their body cavities”. One woman who was strip-searched at a music festival in 2017 said she felt powerless: “I felt like, who am I going to complain to? There’s no one I can talk to about it.”
At least 10 new coronavirus cases have emerged in Australia, with six people testing positive on a ship in Western Australia, two in Sydney schools and two in a Melbourne nursing home on Tuesday. The WA cases were crew members on the Al Kuwait docked at Fremantle, while the cases in Sydney were from independent schools in the eastern suburbs, a Covid-19 hotspot at the height of the pandemic. Two staff members at Lynden Aged Care in Melbourne were also confirmed as having the illness on Tuesday. The new cases emerged as it was revealed that Newmarch House, the NSW care home in which 19 residents died from coronavirus, took six days to allow a federal government-funded surge workforce of private medical clinicians to enter its facility.
Mining company Rio Tinto has destroyed a 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal site in Western Australia in the expansion of an iron ore mine. The cave in Juukan Gorge in the Hammersley Ranges, about 60km from Mt Tom Price, is one of the oldest in the western Pilbara region.
Investment in Australia could be at risk due to watered-down laws requiring company directors to keep the market properly informed. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made the changes to protect companies from “opportunistic class actions” during the Covid-19 crisis, but advisers to funds controlling trillions of dollars say there is no evidence such problems exist.
An expert media group has warned that plans to broadcast Australian TV in Pacific nations could be counterproductive. “Watching rich, white people renovate their homes will not ‘deepen the connection’ with the Pacific,” says former Pacific correspondent for the ABC Jemima Garrett.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson is facing an extraordinary and growing revolt from within his own party over his refusal to sack his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, for breaching lockdown rules. On a day of dramatic developments, a junior minister resigned and more than 30 other Conservative MPs called for Cummings to go, many citing inboxes overflowing with hundreds of angry messages from constituents.
The FBI and authorities in Minnesota have launched investigations into the death of an African American man after an incident, captured on video, in which a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck as he lay on the ground.
JK Rowling is to release a new children’s book for free online. Called the “Ickabog”, Rowling says the serialised fairytale is “about truth and the abuse of power” and has been kept in her attic for years.
Vital international climate talks due to be hosted by the UK are expected to be delayed until late next year because of the coronavirus crisis, it has emerged, dashing hopes they could be reconvened sooner. The UN talks, known as Cop26, were to be held in Glasgow this November, but in early April they were postponed as governments around the world grappled with lockdown.
Earlier this month, Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid the Daily Telegraph had a “world exclusive” – a “bombshell dossier” that exposed China’s “batty science” and backed up Donald Trump’s claims Beijing was covering up the true origin of Covid-19. But as Daniel Hurst reports, what the New York Post described as “a damning dossier leaked from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance” turned out to be a fairly straightforward timeline and summary of publicly available material. A source likened it to a “reading list” or “reference paper”. The Guardian understands from a source who has read the 15-page document that the material relevant to the Wuhan lab leakage theory makes up only a small portion of the file, and does not include any conclusive findings.
In part two of our investigation into the Covid-19 stimulus package, Anne Davies looks at the $60bn miscalculation at the heart of the jobkeeper scheme. On Friday, Treasury announced a massive reporting error: the jobkeeper scheme was costing not $130bn as originally forecast, but only $70bn, and was supporting 3.5 million, not six million, workers. “The hugely embarrassing mistake shows the danger of policy on the run,” writes Davies. “But it also provides an opportunity to finetune the jobkeeper scheme, the centrepiece of the government’s labour support program, and work towards an exit strategy for the expensive program.”
Former state premiers Mike Baird and Jay Weatherill make the case for extending national cabinet. The pair argue the cabinet has reaped the benefits of cooperation between states. “We have seen the benefits of a process which shares expert advice, provides space for difference, but ultimately agrees on ways forward. It stands in stark contrast to the painful inertia of so many Coag meetings where good intentions and grand ideas went to die,” they write.
The Covidsafe app, rolled out in late April, was sold to the public as a measure that would “save lives and protect lives”. In this episode of the Full Story podcast, reporter Josh Taylor explores a series of flaws in the app that’s causing problems for users, and for at least one state health authority.
Rugby Australia could face a mass player exodus if it cannot set up a domestic Super Rugby competition in time. The trio of Queensland Reds players who terminated contracts last week is a trickle that could become a flood if RA fails to negotiate a broadcast deal.
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald report Victoria signed its infrastructure deal with China without consulting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The ABC reports just over one third of Australians think the jobseeker allowance should be lowered as the economy improves, new data suggests, despite the payment being due to halve in September. And the Daily Telegraph has obtained footage of a heated exchange between NSW police minister David Elliott and a P-plater who he claims clipped his car before driving off last October.
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