Penny Wong and Richard Marles have met their US counterparts in Washington in the first high-level defence talks between the allies since the Albanese government took power.
The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said after the meeting the US military will increase rotations of its air, land and sea forces to Australia and condemned China’s “dangerous and coercive actions” across the Indo-Pacific region.
It comes as Taiwan’s foreign minister backed China’s anti-Covid protesters, but also expressed concerns that Beijing could seek to scapegoat Taiwan if demonstrations restarted.
Savings rate slumps as economy grows | Australia’s GDP expanded at an annual rate of 5.9% in the September quarter – the highest rate recorded this century as the economy accelerated from Covid-related lockdowns. But the growth came in weaker than forecast. Meanwhile, the amount people are saving sank for a fourth straight quarter as interest rate hikes and cost-of-living pressures bite.
Prosecutor backed over Higgins case | The ACT attorney general, Shane Rattenbury, has backed prosecutor Shane Drumgold amid ongoing public attacks in the wake of the Bruce Lehrmann trial. Lehrmann is contemplating suing the ABC over its decision to live broadcast a statement made by Brittany Higgins outside court after his trial was aborted.
Brian Houston trial continues | The Hillsong church founder spoke with a barrister about his father’s rape of a child and was told if the matter went to court “his father would surely be incarcerated”. But the offence was not reported to police, a Sydney court has heard. Houston is on trial for allegedly failing to report the abuse to police after his father confessed in 1999 to sexually assaulting the boy.
Democrats win Georgia runoff | Raphael Warnock has secured victory in Georgia’s crucial Senate runoff. The incumbent’s defeat of Herschel Walker gives the Democrats 51 seats to the Republicans’ 49 in the Senate and is seen as a bad omen for Donald Trump’s 2024 tilt at the presidency.
Trump Organization found guilty | A New York jury convicted the Trump Organization of criminal tax fraud in a case centred on charges that Trump’s company paid personal expenses like rent and car leases for top executives without reporting the income. The former US president was not personally on trial.
Khashoggi killing case dropped | A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman that claimed he conspired to kill the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Judge John Bates said that his hands were in effect tied by the Biden administration’s recent recommendation that the crown prince be given immunity.
Ronaldo-less Portugal run riot | Fernando Santos refused to offer Cristiano Ronaldo a clear route back into Portugal’s starting lineup after dropping the all-time great for the 6-1 World Cup thrashing of Switzerland. Ronaldo’s replacement, Gonçalo Ramos, kicked a hat-trick of goals in his international starting debut.
Indonesia bans sex outside marriage | Legislation dubbed the “Bali bonk ban” in some Australian newspapers will apply to foreign visitors and Indonesian citizens alike. Supporters of the new laws say sex outside marriage will be punishable by a year in jail and cohabitation by six months. More than a million Australians visit Indonesia each year.
Imprisoned for being HIV positive
In more than 80 countries, people living with HIV still face criminalisation. We hear from two people who faced criminal charges in the US. Listen to this 32-minute episode.
What they said …
“At my first Salem’s Lot signing, I had one customer. A fat kid who said, ‘Hey bud, do you know where there’s some Nazi books?’” – Stephen King
The prolific novelist led a roll call of writers sending messages of support to debut author Chelsea Banning. Only two people turned up to her book launch, she tweeted, both of whom were her friends.
“It’s a gender gap that’s beyond absurd. It’s actually a moral hazard for Melbourne,” Nicholas Reece, the city’s deputy lord mayor, said. The council says it will put up more women statues to improve gender balance in public art.
Before bed read
It’s not just the super-rich taking flights that are plotting a descent not long after take-off. The French government has had enough, banning short-haul domestic flights between cities that are connected by a train or bus trip of less than two and a half hours.
So could Australia invoke a similar ban on the Sydney-Canberra route? Audrey Quicke thinks it’s a candidate, even if “without meaningful policy reform, the idea is unlikely to take off”.
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