Pyne’s pitfalls, and the wind from the west: How the Liberal leadership crisis unfolded

January 15: The government backs down on its $20 Medicare cut. The reduced rebate had been widely criticised by doctors. Labor said the Coalition’s health policies were in a “shambles”. Only 24 hours earlier, Tony Abbott had been robustly defending the cut.
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January 26: Abbott announces that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will be knighted, a move which was widely ridiculed and raised internal questions about his judgment. He later confirmed it was a “captain’s call”.

January 28: Rupert Murdoch tweets that Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin should be sacked. “Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign …” he wrote.

January 31: Campbell Newman’s Liberal government suffers a massive backlash in the Queensland election. Meanwhile Queensland MP Mal Brough reveals he could challenge Abbott.

Feburary 1: Abbott meets Julie Bishop in Sydney to discuss leadership

February 2: Abbott delivers a speech at the National Press Club, admitting that he had made some mistakes, but he was not considering resigning.

Jeff Kennett says the Liberal Party’s leadership was now “terminal”. “It needs to be resolved as quickly as possible so that the party can move on,” he said.

February 5: Abbott tells the media he is “confident” that he will be leader next week, but news of a secret leadership meeting with Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull emerges. February 6:  A motion is called for a leadership spill by WA MP Luke Simkins. Tony Abbott says Julie Bishop and he will stand together during the motion on Tuesday (10 February). 

February 6: 6am: Christopher Pyne says he “hopes” the Prime Minister still has the numbers in the party room, raising speculation Abbott’s support in the cabinet is waning.

1pm: Bishop refuses to quell rumours of the spill motion, saying she does not have any advice for her colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and “they take whatever action they see fit”.

1.30pm: West Australian MP Luke Simpkins writes an email to his colleague, announcing he will move a spill against Abbott. Fellow West Australian MP Don Randall supports it. Both are supporters of Bishop.

1.50pm: Phillip Ruddock, the chief government whip, writes an email confirming a motion will be moved by a secret ballot that the “senior positions of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant” on Tuesday.

3.10pm: Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says he will not contend the leadership.

3.30pm: Abbott fronts the media in a short conference, where he confirms the spill of the two positions, but says he and Bishop will stand together to defeat the motion.

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Liberal Party Tony Abbott spill: Twittersphere awash with reactions

Bring it on: Tony Abbott, with insets Luke Simpkins (top) and Don Randall. Photo: SuppliedLive: Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge’We must bring this to a head and test support’Julie Bishop refuses to quell unrestAbbott’s leadership enters the killing zone#libspill spills into ‘political protest’
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West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins has emailed his colleagues, announcing he will move a spill motion against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In his email he said: “In the last two weeks I have been inundated with emails and walk-ins to my electorate office all questioning the direction the government is being led in.

“The knighthood issue was for many the final proof of disconnection with the people.

“I have therefore submitted to the Chief Government Whip [Philip Ruddock] a motion to spill the leadership position of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party… “

It was seconded by fellow West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall.

The motion has been listed for discussion at the Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday.

The Twittersphere is awash with quips and pictures of reactions to the spill, especially on the hastag #itson.  BREAKING: IT’S ON! Here’s @JuliaGillard watching @ABCNews24 as we speak… #itson#libspill#auspolpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/4VkfxyReWh — Chris Chamberlin (@popculturechris) February 6, 2015 Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott debate the republic. Pic from The Australian Moment’s gallery of rivals. #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/kutARysGz8 — George Megalogenis (@GMegalogenis) February 6, 2015 Bet you’re regretting making this tweet #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/GfFKnurGWa — James Mc9 (@cashbonez) February 6, 2015 Fairfax and Sky News reporting of the #itson story has been first class. They’ve been slaking my thirst for stories. — Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) February 6, 2015  

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Revamped V8 Supercars television coverage to start on Sunday

As well as having to pay for live TV coverage of every race for the first time, V8 Supercars fans will also have to get used to new commentary teams.
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Some familiar names have been replaced in V8’s switch from Channel Seven to an AFL/NRL-style split broadcast deal with pay TV’s Fox Sports and Channel Ten.

The $241 million six-year agreement begins on Sunday with live coverage of the final day of the two-day pre-season V8 SuperTest at Sydney Motorsport Park by Fox Sports and delayed highlights on the Ten Network.

The key casualty of the change is V8 legend Mark Skaife, who makes way for former Ten Network motor sport presenter Greg Rust.

Returning to the V8 commentary team after an eight-year absence, Rust takes over as the lead caller.

Also missing from the new-look line-up is popular pit lane analyst and ex-V8 racer/team owner Mark Larkham, replaced by four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy.

New Zealander Murphy, an outspoken observer famous for his Bathurst 1000 heroics, has retired from co-driving in the V8 endurance races to become a full-time commentator.

Skaife, winner of five V8 championships, is expected to have a role on Fox Sport’s new weekly V8 Supercars discussion panel show, which may also feature regular appearances by Larkham.

Staying on as the expert commentator is veteran V8 analyst and former racer Neil Crompton, with Riana Crehan also returning as the other pit lane reporter alongside Murphy.

Fox Sports and Channel Ten, which will simulcast the six biggest events, are sharing the commentary across the season, adding their own hosts, experts and guests around the common coverage of track action.

Fox Sports will telecast every practice and qualifying session, and all races of the 14-event V8 championship series live, while Network Ten will simulcast the Adelaide 500, Townsville 500, Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600 and Sydney 500.

Channel Ten will show delayed highlights of the remaining eight events following Fox Sports’ coverage.

V8 Supercars’ move to primary coverage on subscription TV is controversial because it is the first time fans have had to pay to watch every race since regular telecasts of major Australian touring car racing began in the mid-1970s.

While the split broadcast deal is good for V8 teams, which will receive more income from the much more lucrative arrangement, dedicated motor sport followers are upset that only six events will be screened on free-to-air TV.

It will cost $50 a month for a Foxtel subscription that includes Fox Sports’ wall-to-wall live coverage on all days of each event.

V8 Supercars and Fox Sports maintain that the improved and expanded coverage, which will include all supporting races, justifies the cost for hardcore motor sport followers while enhancing the service for existing subscribers.

V8 executives predict the total viewing audience will increase because Fox Sport’s coverage will be augmented by Ten’s free-to-air telecasts.

Fox Sports is expected to announce its additional V8 on-air line-up to supplement the shared commentary team, while Channel Ten will confirm its presenters later this month.

It is expected that Fox Sport’s motor sport presenter Jessica Yates will host the network’s V8 coverage. Former Channel Seven frontman Matt White will host Ten’s telecasts, joined by ex-F1 star Mark Webber at the season-opening Adelaide 500 and the blue ribband Bathurst 1000.

White will also host the return of the weekly RPM motor sport magazine show, which will feature V8 drivers as regular guests.

Fairfax Media understands that former V8 champion Rick Kelly has signed with Ten to provide behind-the-scenes insights during race weekends.

The pre-season V8 SuperTest this weekend will be a trial run for Fox Sport’s coverage, which is produced by V8 Supercar’s own broadcast production unit.

Fox Sports is promising telecasts loaded with new technology that will enable viewers to select alternative in-car and on-track vision during the broadcasts of track action.

The free-admission SuperTest consists of three practice sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, with the pre-season hit-out culminating with a shoot-out for the fastest lap time on Sunday afternoon.

All 25 cars will race one at a time against the clock over a flying lap.

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Cubitt Street, Richmond, home to go under the hammer as real estate prices rise

Nick Callanan and Penny Chan in front of their Cremorne home. Photo: Wayne TaylorThis little workers cottage in Cubitt Street, Richmond, tells its own bust-to-boom story.
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The free-standing weatherboard last changed hands in 2006 for $499,950 when the standard variable mortgage rate was 7.3 per cent, shortly before the US subprime mortgage crisis precipitated a global slump and today’s historic low interest rates.

Later this month the two-bedroom home will go under the hammer along with 1440 other properties after two years of steadily rising prices and just as the Reserve Bank’s Tuesday rate cut filters through to the property market. It’s expected to have almost doubled in value.

The 18-month record run of low interest rates has spurred Melbourne’s median house price to hit a fresh peak of $669,000 late last year, up from a previous high of $550,000 in 2010, just-released December quarter figures from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria show.

Prices rose most in middle suburbs, with regional areas rebounding as buyers looked for more affordable properties, REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said.

“Melbourne’s record-breaking auction boom, which continued until just days before Christmas, helped push home prices up,” he said.

But while values in Melbourne and Sydney at still climbing, other cities lag. Prices in Canberra and Darwin are depressed, and Perth’s are stagnant.

After cutting rates, the Reserve Bank will be watching property markets closely, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Given the large increases in housing prices in some regions and ongoing strength in lending to investors in housing assets, housing market developments will need to be watched carefully,” the RBA said in a statement on Friday, justifying its rate cut.

The statement included a mild warning to lenders that the RBA was considering so-called “macroprudential” controls to limit high-risk loans.

“The bank is working with other regulators to assess and contain economic risks that may arise from the housing market,” it said.

If passed on in full, the cut will result in a saving of $53 a month for a borrower with a $350,000 loan.

Financial markets are pricing in a one-in-three chance of a further rate cut next month.

Cubitt Street homeowner Nick Callanan said a desire to “upsize” and the buoyant property market had prompted his decision to move. “It’s a good time to sell particularly with the recent interest rate cuts,” he said.

But some economists fear lower interest rates could result in another property boom.

“One of the clearest things low interest rates are going to do is boost housing markets. Even lower interest rates risk seeing a housing bubble form, particularly in the Sydney market,” HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said.

Biggin & Scott real estate agent Edward Hobbs said he was expecting another strong year.

“The apartment market for new property is saturated but the housing market is still strong,” he said.

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Senator John Faulkner, Labor’s conscience, leaves Parliament after 25 years

Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Labor’s elder statesman in the Senate, John Faulkner, spent the last day of his parliamentary term on Friday packing up boxes in his Sydney office, and having a quiet lunch with staff.

There would, he said, be no parting fireworks after 25 years in the nation’s upper house, no clarion calls for party reform of the sort that made headlines last year.

It was not a day for that.

Instead, he wanted it known that “I will always be a Labor loyalist, and a true believer, even at times when I have argued for change and for those in the party to change their approach. I owe the Labor Party everything.”

Senator Faulkner made an impassioned, and unsuccessful, plea at the state ALP conference last year for changes to the way upper house Labor MPs were selected, saying the stranglehold of factional and union bosses had to be broken.

The party, he said, could not escape responsibility for a system that had enabled the repeated endorsement of Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, found later by ICAC to be corrupt.

Speeches like this have led to Senator Faulkner, who was a longstanding Senate opposition leader, as well as a minister under three Labor prime ministers, being characterised as the party’s conscience.

But on Friday he declared “my public political life is behind me”.

There will be no autobiography or memoir, no career in lobbying or in the media, he insists.

Instead, he will make a “useful contribution to the community” in some yet-to-be-revealed capacity. In the short term, he will advise new state ALP leader Luke Foley in the lead-up to the NSW election in March.

An intensely private politician, Senator Faulkner said the rise of social media had made a huge difference to the life of politicians. “So many more aspects of your life are an open book than previously would have been the case.”

Always entrusted by the party’s leaders with their deepest political secrets, he has never revealed the conversations he had with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard on the night she launched her challenge.

On Friday, he stuck to his hallmark taciturnity.

His response as Liberal leadership clouds gathered in Canberra? A wry “no comment”.

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The Liberals of the west who forced the vote against Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Federal MP Luke Simpkins poses with Karen National Defence Organisation head Major-General Ner Dah Bo Mya on January 31. Photo: Steve SandfordAbbott and Bishop to work together to defeat spill’We must bring this to a head and test support’Julie Bishop refuses to quell unrestAbbott’s leadership enters the killing zone
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Days before his surprise incursion on to the centre stage of Australian politics, little-known Liberal Luke Simpkins made an illegal incursion into Myanmar from across the Thai border.

The MP West Australian MP, who has forced the vote that will decide Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hold on the prime ministership, is another political maverick from the west.

Along with Dennis Jensen, the first Liberal to call on Mr Abbott to resign this week, and Don Randall, who will second Mr Simpkins’ spill motion on Tuesday, Mr Simpkins walks his own path.

Among his pet dislikes, which he has spoken up about in parliament, is halal meat which he has described as “one step down the path to [Islamic] conversion”.

He has spoken up for banning the burqa and was one of a handful of Liberals – along with Mr Jensen – to oppose the apology to the stolen generations.

On Tuesday, Fairfax Media reported Mr Simpkins’ “illegal” visit to Karen rebel paramilitaries in Myanmar.

The former Australian army officer presented a large Australian flag to the rebels before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Mr Simpkins, who was born in Sydney and attended Sydney Boys High, defended breaching another country’s sovereignty, saying pressure had to be exerted on “military-controlled governments”.

Mr Simpkins said he would report his findings to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the most senior and influential member of the West Australian Liberals.

It is not known whether he did that or whether Mr Simpkins and Mr Randall warned Ms Bishop that they would call for a spill.

According to Ms Bishop’s statement, released on Friday after Mr Abbott vowed to fight the motion, she does not support their course of action.

Ms Bishop’s relationship with the rebel elements in the Liberal Party room will be under close scrutiny, with the major backbench manoeuvres against Mr Abbott’s leadership beginning in that state.

Mr Simpkins said he expects “people like Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison will stand”.

“I expect Malcolm Turnbull will put his hand up as well,” he said.

In an initial statement, he said the spill motion would give all members the opportunity to “either endorse the prime minister or seek a new direction”.

“I have no front-bench ambitions,” he said.

“I just want to make sure that the economic vandals do not get back into power and our children and grandchildren are not left to pay Labor’s bill.

“I do this because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of our country.”

Mr Simpkins said he had been “inundated” with emails and people coming into his office questioning the direction the government.

Like Mr Simpkins, Mr Randall did not attend the Stolen Generations apology by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

He once referred to the “Gay-BC” when referring to the national broadcaster and its perceived biases.

Mr Randall was at the centre of the expenses scandal that rocked the early days of the Abbott government.

A Fairfax Media investigation found he had used $10,000 in taxpayer money to fly to Cairns, north Queensland, where he and his wife own an investment property. He claimed he was on “electorate business” in visiting then-party whip Warren Entsch.

Mr Entsch cast doubt on whether that was electorate business and Mr Randall later paid back the fares.

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Liberal spill: where various cabinet ministers stand

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that he will not step down despite a challenge to his leadership. Photo: Janie BarrettTony Abbott
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Leader of the Liberal Party since he deposed Malcolm Turnbull in 2009 and Prime Minister since winning the 2013 election. Will not go quietly, having told dissenters they were “asking the party room to vote out the people that the electorate voted in.”

Malcolm Turnbull

Communications Minister, former leader and the prime contender for the leadership. On Thursday, Turnbull stated that there was “no tension between Tony and any of his senior colleagues. It is a very, very cohesive team and we are all supportive”. Has not spoken since the spill motion was placed on the agenda.

Julie Bishop

Deputy leader of the party, Foreign Minister and is consistently mentioned as a a potential challenger for the leadership. Will vote with the Prime Minister against the first spill motion for the sake of “cabinet solidarity” but has not agreed to run on a joint ticket with Abbott if the spill motion gets up.

Scott Morrison

Until recently the Immigration Minister, now the Social Services Minister. Very succesful in his former portfolio and touted as a potential leader, although he has ruled out nominating. Reportedly a possible replacement for Joe Hockey as treasurer.

Joe Hockey

The Treasurer has said that he “strongly supports” the Prime Minister. His position as Treasurer would be vulnerable under an alternative leadership.

Warren Truss

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals. Although Nationals cannot vote in a Liberal leadership ballot, Truss has thrown his support behind the Prime Minister.

Barnaby Joyce

Agriculture Minister and deputy leader of the Nationals. Quoted on Friday: “If all of sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don’t necessarily think the wedding is still on.”

Eric Abetz

Leader of the Government in the Senate and from the conservative wing of the party. Abetz has publicly stated his support for the prime minister.

Christopher Pyne

Leader of the House and Education Minister. On Friday morning, Pyne stated that he was a “strong supporter” of the Prime Minister but didn’t appear confident that he would survive a ballot.

Andrew Robb

Trade Minister and a senior Liberal figure. While he supports Abbott, he has stated that the concerns of backbenchers are legitimate and that the Prime Minister’s “position relies on his performance.”

Bruce Billson

Small Business Minister. Stated his support for the prime minister on Friday afternoon, Billson said “the spill-motion will not succeed. It would be an act of self-harm.”

Peter Dutton

Recently minted immigration minister, Dutton has stated that a “spill of a sitting Prime Minister half way through his first term when there is no challenger just makes no sense.”

Kevin Andrews

Defence Minister. Will vote against the motion because MPs “should respect the view that the Australian people took to the election.”

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Defence Minister Kevin Andrews in Julia Gillard leadership gaffe

Analysis: all eyes on TurnbullThe Pulse: Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge’He’s smarter than Tony Abbott’
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Among the cavalcade of ministers pledging their support for Prime Minister Tony Abbott there was one statement that really stood out – for all the wrong reasons.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews followed his colleagues by calling a press conference to plead for unity amid the extraordinary leadership crisis gripping the Liberal Party.

“I believe the team of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard is the best leadership team for the Liberal Party and therefore part of the best leadership team of the Coalition for the country,” he said.

It was unfortunate. And it was perfect. Thank heavens Kevin Andrews is not in charge of anything important like, say, Defence. — Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) February 6, 2015

“We should respect the decision that the Australian people made and, most importantly, we should be acting for stability of the party and through that for the stability of the country.”

One by one, ministers emerged on Friday to declare they would not support next Tuesday’s leadership spill.

They included Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Employment Minister Eric Abetz and Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“I believe that the spill motion should be defeated and will be defeated,” Mr Frydenberg told the ABC.

“We saw, from the Labor Party when they were in government, it turn out like a very bad horror movie. I just don’t want to buy another ticket to such a horror movie.” Amid the flurry I missed Kevin Andrews saying he believes the team of Tony Abbott & Julia Gillard is the best team for the Liberals — Lauren Gianoli (@LaurenGianoli) February 6, 2015

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What will happen to Treasurer Joe Hockey if Tony Abbott is deposed?

Child cheer: Joe Hockey at a Childcare centre in Padstow. Photo: Nick MoirHe was once tagged as a future Prime Minister, but what will happen to Treasurer Joe Hockey if Tony Abbott loses the leadership next week?
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Chances are he will lose his portfolio. The Prime Ministership is out of the question.

In modern Australia, great Treasurers and Prime Ministers are tied together, like a songwriting team.

Voters remember the classic pairs. Hawke and Keating. Howard and Costello.

But Hockey’s record as Treasurer has not been good – as budget salesman, economic visionary, or policy wonk – and he has not been helped by his Prime Minister’s political missteps and lack of economic nous.

They have both struggled from the moment they delivered their first budget, and their colleagues have had to spend a lot of time fending off accusations that the government’s budget is unfair.

One of Hockey’s biggest problems has been bad luck.

He has faced some of the most difficult economic circumstances in decades – just like his predecessor Wayne Swan – so he has had to spend his energy convincing Australians that life is about to get a lot tougher.

But he has not helped himself. There is more than one way to construct a budget. Yes he has had to cut down on spending, but his decision to go after the poor and less well-off in the way that he did has had political ramifications well beyond federal politics.

If someone replaces Abbott as leader on Tuesday and appoints a new Treasurer, that Treasurer will have to deal with the negative legacy of Hockey’s budget.

But who could replace him?

Assuming Turnbull becomes Prime Minister, it’s hard to imagine it being Julie Bishop, given how badly she did as Shadow Treasurer.

Some have been endorsing Andrew Robb as Treasurer. He has an economics degree and could probably do the job but he’s hardly a compelling communicator.

He’s unlikely to inspire the troops, let alone the punters.

And Turnbull does not like him much, given the role he played in precipitating the spill against Turnbull.

It’s hard to imagine them having the sort of working relationship you would need between a Prime Minister and a Treasurer for that to be successful.

There are some on the right of the Coalition who would like Scott Morrison to be Treasurer because he’s their darling after Abbott.

But whether Morrison can count beyond the number of boats remains to be seen.

The other name that some people mention is the younger Christian Porter, the former Treasurer of Western Australia.

Like a WA version of Peter Costello, he jumped shipped to federal politics because he came to the view that WA Premier Colin Barnett would never step aside for him so his best chance of advancing his political career was to go federal.

He’s regarded as having the capacity to do the job, but it would say something about the depth of talent within the Parliamentary Liberal Party if they had to reach down that far to find the right person for the second-most important job in the government.

These are the types of conversations that are going on in Canberra.

However, the problem for any prospective alternative Treasurer is that the effectiveness of good Treasurers has always been enhanced by the ability of their respective prime ministers to communicate economic messages.

Does Turnbull fit that bill? Does Julie Bishop?

These are interesting times. Meanwhile, the next budget is due in three months.

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Royal commission: Rabbi let man flee because he ‘did not know’ about sex abuse allegations

The head of a Sydney rabbinical college says he was not aware that inappropriately touching a child could be criminal when one of his students left Australia amid accusations of child sexual abuse.
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Rabbi Yosef Feldman, whose father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, is the head of Sydney’s orthodox Chabad community, also told the royal commission into child sexual abuse on Friday that he believed: Child sexual abuse was “not common” and did not affect more than 30 per cent of societyUnderstanding the nature of abuse and responding to abuse allegations were largely a matter of “common sense”.Since he and his father failed to prevent his student, known as AVL, from leaving Australia, he said he had not undertaken formal training in child sexual abuseRabbis, he said, should be trained in how to deal with child sexual abuse. But the rabbinical curriculum now only mentions abuse as it relates to Jewish law

Rabbi Feldman was the administrative director of the rabbinical college at orthodox Jewish institution Yeshiva in Sydney in 2002, when a parent complained that a man – known as AVL – had massaged their child while lying beside them.

Within two days of the complaint, AVL had left the country. Before leaving, AVL told Rabbi Feldman and his father he intended to return to America. They did not prevent him from doing so, and did not inform police when he left.

Rabbi Feldman told the commission that he had told AVL he believed his conduct was “highly inappropriate” under Jewish law. But he did not know the conduct was sexual or that AVL could be charged with a crime under Australian law.

“I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t think much about it from the legal perspective. As I said that wasn’t my involvement … and I don’t deal with that sort of thing,” he said.

Had Rabbi Feldman known then that AVL had also been accused of touching the child’s genitals, he would have thought the conduct was criminal, he said.

The rabbi told the commission that while he had at that time been the administrative director of the college for about a decade, he was not aware of laws requiring mandatory reporting of child abuse.

As a “young man” of 33 at the time, he had relied on his father to tell him of such obligations: “I assumed he would tell me what’s necessary.”

He conceded that he was unfit to hold the position of director at the time given his lack of knowledge: “If that’s the case that’s the case. If you are telling me that’s the case then I accept it.”

Since then, the rabbi said he had read more about child sexual abuse, but had not undertaken any formal training. Detection of child abuse was, he said, largely a matter of “common sense”: “I’m an extremely busy person so yes, I haven’t had that feeling that I need to make it the highest or very high priority.”

He now believed that under Jewish law “all child sex abuse allegations should be dealt with by the authorities, no matter what sort of outcome that would bring”.

But Rabbi Feldman maintained that if a person other than the child’s parent had heard a child may have been abused, without “reasonable grounds”: “I feel that the first and main person should be a rabbi.”

The hearing continues.

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Canberra man Liam Rudd recovering from serious motorcycle crash in Bali

Liam Rudd was left with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain after a motorcycle crash in Bali last Sunday. Photo: act\clare上海龙凤419lleyJust one week after Canberra man Liam Rudd arrived in Bali for holidays, a motorcycle crash left him lying in a hospital bed with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
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The 24-year-old’s shocked family and friends are rallying to raise money to help pay mounting hospital bills of at least $20,000 after the crash last Sunday, with fears he will be stuck in Bali until the medical expenses are paid.

Initially the hospital demanded $7000 upfront for Mr Rudd’s surgery from his twin sister Tanika Rudd, but due to the seriousness of his injuries they went ahead with the operation to insert a plate in his skull and stop internal bleeding after he crashed his bike into a tree.

Mr Rudd’s friend and Common Grounds Gowrie cafe workmate Corey Garcia is helping to raise funds to cover the medical costs through an online page set up with help from workmate Nathan Reynolds.

“We’ve tried everything we can do, we don’t know what else to do,” Mr Garcia said.

“At first it felt a bit distant, but once I saw photos and spoke to him over the phone it was pretty upsetting.

“He doesn’t sound like himself at all, he repeated himself a few times and he couldn’t build conversation.”

Mr Rudd started working as a cook at the cafe after moving to Canberra last August.

He recently left his job to go travelling, but Mr Garcia said the cafe staff had been looking forward to his return.

Mr Rudd’s aunt, Virginia Wood, from Kambah, said it took a while for the reality of Mr Rudd’s “horrific” accident to sink in when she was contacted by his Sydney-based twin.

“It sort of spun me because they wanted $3500 before they operated and then [another] $3500 before they let him out of hospital and that’s got to be paid,” Ms Wood said.

“Because his injuries were so bad they had to operate or otherwise he would have died.”

Ms Wood said she couldn’t bear to look at the graphic photos of her nephew lying in a hospital bed.

“As soon as I saw it I cried, I can’t look at those photos,” she said.

“They [the twins] lost their mum 12 years ago and she [Miss Rudd] just can’t lose Liam.”

Until she arrives in Bali, Miss Rudd won’t know the full extent of her brother’s injuries or if he has insurance to offset his medical bills, which currently sit at about $20,000, including a $7000 surgery bill and $1000 for each day of his stay in intensive care.

She has learned his teeth and eyes were unharmed in the crash, but he still has swelling on the brain and short-term memory loss.

Ms Wood covered the cost of a fast-tracked passport for Miss Rudd to fly to Bali on Saturday to be by her brother’s side.

“He just kept on asking for her and wondering why she wasn’t there,” Ms Wood said.

“He had a bit of short-term memory loss so he was getting really agitated.

“As soon as she’s over there he will calm down instantly – as soon as he sees her.”

Mr Rudd lived with Ms Wood and her family in Kambah when he first moved to Canberra, before he found a share house at Richardson.

The family are relieved Mr Rudd’s memory appears to be improving and Ms Wood said he had even began asking after his beloved cat Gizmo, who was being taken care of by his housemates at Richardson.

Donations towards Liam Rudd’s treatment can be made online: www.giveforward上海龙凤419m/fundraiser/qck7/liam-rudd-s-motorcycle-accident-treatment-fund.

– With Tracey Prisk

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ARB chief Peter McGauran reviews steroid rule after backflip

“Why a substance was found to be an anabolic steroid when it was later ruled not to be one is of concern and we are already reviewing that.”: ARB chief executive Peter McGauran. Photo: Paul Rovere
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“Why a substance was found to be an anabolic steroid when it was later ruled not to be one is of concern and we are already reviewing that.”: ARB chief executive Peter McGauran. Photo: Paul Rovere

“Why a substance was found to be an anabolic steroid when it was later ruled not to be one is of concern and we are already reviewing that.”: ARB chief executive Peter McGauran. Photo: Paul Rovere

Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran has launched a review into how a synthetic hormone was deemed an anabolic steroid after the first set of random testing of yearlings last month.

A yearling colt sold at Magic Millions faced a 12-month ban after a test showed signs of altrenogest, a synthetic hormone, but it was reported by analysts to be an anabolic androgenic steroid because of its similar structure.

The ARB banned the use of anabolic steroids from birth to retirement in racehorses in May and ruled a mandatory one-year ban for any horse breaching the rule. At the time it was proclaimed a world-first rule.

But the first suspected positive test, which become public on Monday, has led to an embarrassing backflip.

“It has been challenged by breeders and it has been scientifically assessed and the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that it is not an anabolic steroid,” McGauran said.

“Why a substance was found to be an anabolic steroid when it was later ruled not to be one is of concern and we are already reviewing that.”

Fairfax Media has learned there is no list of substances that fall under the steroid rule and McGauran doesn’t see a need for one.

“I think there has been an air of panic on this issue,” McGauran said.

“We don’t need to change a rule. We don’t list what anabolic steroids are, that is up to the laboratories to tell us. The laboratories have to be more assured of their findings.”

Racing Queensland’s integrity department turned to the ARB more than a fortnight ago when the finding of an irregularity to altrenogest, which is in a commonly used product called Regumate that regulates reproductive cycles in fillies and mares, was discovered. However, it took Racing Queensland to clear the yearling colt, and therefore not ban it, rather than ARB on Thursday.

“Upon considering veterinary advice and the Australian Racing Board notice, stewards determined that altrenogest is not an anabolic androgenic steroid, and is therefore not prohibited in male horses if present in a sample taken out of competition,” Racing Queensland general manager of stewards and integrity operations Wade Birch said.

“Despite having a similar chemical structure to an anabolic androgenic steroid, the advice we received satisfies us that altrenogest does not have a similar biological effect.”

Birch will prepare a report into the saga and has indicated a list of prohibited substances will be useful in this case.

The World Anti-Doping Authority provides a list of banned substances in its code and it was included in an explanatory note in the ARB media release in May. It did mention altrenogest by name, offering it was still permitted in fillies and mares.

The WADA list finishes with “other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s)” to allow inclusions of other substances.

The racing rule almost certainly needs classification to prevent another incident such as the colt from Magic Millions. Leading members of the breeding and bloodstock industry have labelled the incident a farce that was waiting to happen.   

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Malcolm Turnbull’s date with destiny

Will the Liberal Party turn to Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday? Photo: Rob Homer Will the Liberal Party turn to Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday? Photo: Rob Homer
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Will the Liberal Party turn to Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday? Photo: Rob Homer

Will the Liberal Party turn to Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday? Photo: Rob Homer

The Pulse Live: Tony Abbott faces a leadership challengeAnalysis: When it finally came, its direction was tellingHow will the spill motion work?

“The chances of me being leader again are negligible.”

So said Malcolm Turnbull in 2012. Labor was again tearing itself apart over leadership and Tony Abbott was ascendant as opposition leader.

Yet, even then, he held out hope of again leading the party that rejected him in 2009. Turnbull’s self-belief is a flame that cannot be snuffed out.

“I can’t say there is no chance … but if I leave this place not having been leader again, I would not regard myself as having failed.”

A mere three years later, the role that has seemed his destiny since he entered politics a decade ago – the prime ministership – is finally within reach. The Prince of Point Piper has never been so close.

Staggeringly intelligent, urbane, short-tempered and convinced of his own brilliance, no other politician can match Turnbull’s breadth of achievement in the “real world”. He’s been a journalist with The Bulletin, Kerry Packer’s adviser, the swashbuckling lawyer defending free speech in the Spycatcher case, a Goldman Sachs investment banker and a venture capitalist.

Which other politicians could wear a leather jacket on to Q&A and get away with it?

It captures something of the glamour that surrounds Turnbull that Abbott once claimed he “virtually invented the internet in this country”. (Turnbull was an early investor and chair of internet service provider OzeMail.)

Although Paul Keating had hoped to lure him to the Labor Party, Turnbull has been interested in being a Liberal MP since 1981 when he unsuccessfully ran for the seat of Wentworth (an affluent electorate in Sydney’s eastern suburbs).

In 2004, he finally righted that wrong – but only after booting out the sitting member, Peter King, in a bitter preselection battle.

After being elevated to cabinet in his first term in Parliament, Turnbull ran to succeed John Howard as Liberal leader after the 2007 election. Brendan Nelson defeated him by three votes.

Less than a year later, with Nelson struggling to dent Kevin Rudd’s popularity, Turnbull unseated him by four votes.

As opposition leader, Turnbull oversaw one of the most tumultuous periods in Liberal Party history.

In the “Utegate” affair, he famously called on Rudd to resign on the basis of fraudulent evidence concocted by Treasury mole Godwin Grech.

His commitment to an emissions trading scheme infuriated his more conservative colleagues and eventually led to the party terminating his leadership.

Turnbull announced that he would retire from politics but reversed his position after two months following pleas from Liberals including Howard.

He eventually returned to the frontbench as communications spokesman, then minister. He worked hard, eschewed bitterness, and won praise internally for neutralising Labor’s advantage on broadband policy.

Now the Liberal Party is pondering another dalliance with Turnbull as leader. Not because he’s beloved – for many conservatives his support for gay marriage and a price on carbon makes him simply too progressive to bear. But the polls show he is easily the most popular senior Liberal with the public.

Turnbull has not been counting numbers or undermining Abbott. But he has carefully kept his options open. If next week’s spill motion succeeds, few have any doubt. Turnbull will run if he believes he has the numbers to win. This is not a man who dodges a date with destiny.

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