Australia news live update: Chris Dawson murder trial verdict due

Judge begins delivering verdict in Chris Dawson murder trial

Nino Bucci

Nino Bucci

Justice Ian Harrison has started delivering his verdict in Christopher Dawson’s trial for murder.

Dawson is alleged to have killed his wife Lynette Dawson in 1982.

He is providing a summary of the prosecution’s case, but was clear that it did not mean he accepted all the evidence they had introduced during the trial.

The prosecution case was circumstantial, he said, and relied upon an alleged motive that Dawson killed his wife Lynette Dawson so he could have an “unfettered relationship” with a teenager known as JC.

Harrison said the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson is dead, that she was killed by Dawson with the possible involvement or assistance of others, and that he – and possibly others – disposed of her body. Her body has never been found.

The verdict continues.

Updated at 20.22 EDT

Key events

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

A few mixed signals on the economics front in the past day or so.

Out today, the weekly survey of consumer sentiment from ANZ and Roy Morgan shows a modest decline after a 6.6% rise in the previous two weeks.

That jars slightly with the 1.3% month-on-month rise in retail sales recorded in July, and reported yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economists put that down to rising tourists and returning Australians (although with many people heading overseas to get away from winter last month – including yours truly – must have had the opposite effect).

Meanwhile, inflation expectations remain subdued in Australia at least – even given the chatter from the recent Jackson Hole, Wyoming gathering of the US Fed Reserve herd.

Those overseas inflation concerns, though, and the strong retail numbers for July may have contributed to investors nudging their expectations of how high the Reserve Bank will lift the cash rate.

Investors, meanwhile, have lately lifted their expectations of how high the RBA will raise its cash rate. There’s more than 4/5 chance the rate will rise 50bp to 2.35% on 6 Sept, and an increase to 4% by mid-2023 is among their predictions.

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) August 29, 2022

Economists aren’t quite so twitchy, with the rate more likely to peak at about 3% or less, with cuts to follow. This time next week, we’ll likely be posting about another 50 basis point increase is all but certain at the 6 September RBA board meeting.

(We’re saving the headline for the “BOOT all but a shoo-in for the Jobs and Skills Summit.)

The verdict in the Chris Dawson murder trial is currently being read out, and we will bring you the result as soon as we know it.

We are expecting to hear from the premiers of NSW and Victoria, Dominic Perrottet and Daniel Andrews, at around 11:30am this morning, with a “major health announcement.”

The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews and Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet will make a major health announcement, 11:30am Melbourne #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) August 30, 2022

Labor’s Stage 3 tax cuts will give as much to the richest 1% as to the poorest two thirds (65%) combined.

These tax cuts will turbocharge economic & gender inequality – stripping $244 billion from the budget that should go into public services. They must be scrapped.

— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) August 29, 2022

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Albanese flags possibility of reducing Covid isolation period to five days

Returning to Anthony Albanese’s interview on 2SM radio earlier this morning, the prime minister has kept open the possibility of reducing the Covid isolation period to five days from the current seven.

National cabinet will meet tomorrow, and Albanese said Covid settings will be a top priority for discussion. NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has been calling for the change for a while, and Albanese said it “has been on the agenda for some time … we’ll have a discussion with all of the premiers”.

He said he was focused on getting all the states and territories “on the same page so that there’s consistency in the regulations and the rules which are out there”.

Albanese has been embroiled in a strange, somewhat related story after the Sydney Morning Herald reported he had told his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs football team that the isolation period could be slashed, which comes as their star player Damien Cook battles the virus ahead of a big game this weekend.

Asked about Cook, Albanese responded: “I think it’s a brave thing to play after five days. I doubt whether he’ll play this this week, regardless of the outcome of the decision tomorrow. That’s a decision for South Sydney.”

Elsewhere in the wide-ranging chat, the PM said the referendum on the Voice to Parliament won’t be in the first half of next year, and as previously reported, he said Shaquille O’Neal had approached him about getting involved in the public campaign – defending the surprise involvement of the American basketball star.

“The fact is, that Shaq’s appearance meant that people are talking about it. And one of the things we need to do is to raise awareness in the community that this referendum is coming, that there’s a need for debate around it,” Albanese said.

Shaq appeals to a whole bunch of people, many of whom would have been hearing about the Voice to Parliament for the very first time, and that’s a good thing. So I make no apologies for saying I’ll engage with anyone, anywhere, anytime, about these issues. And anything we can do to raise the profile of this issue is a good thing.

Updated at 20.07 EDT

And Serena Williams is on court in for the opening of her final US Open campaign, and has already gone two games up. You can keep up at our live blog:

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

eSafety commissioner issues notices to major tech companies to report on anti-child sexual exploitation measures

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has issued “world-first” notices to tech giants Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Snapchat to report information on what they’re doing to stamp out online child sexual exploitation.

The notices, issued as part of the Online Safety Act’s “basic online safety expectations”, and require the companies to report back within 28 days or face fines of up to $555,000 per day.

The eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, warned that sexual exploitation of children was becoming “prevalent on the mainstream platforms we and our children use every day”. In a statement, she identified livestreaming, anonymity and end-to-end encryption of messages as growing risks.

“This has lent itself to range of proliferating harms against children including online grooming, sexual extortion and coerced, self-produced child sexual exploitation material,” Inman Grant said.

Notices have been sent to Apple, Microsoft (which operates Skype), Meta (which runs Facebook and Whatsapp), Snap, and video chat service Omegle. Inman Grant said she “plans to issue further notices to additional providers in due course to build a comprehensive picture of online safety measures across a wide range of services”.

eSafety has taken 61,000 complaints about illegal and restricted content since 2015, with the majority involving child sexual exploitation material, saying there had been “a surge in reports about this horrific material since the start of the pandemic”.

Updated at 19.54 EDT

Verdict due today in murder trial of Christopher Dawson

Nino Bucci

Nino Bucci

I’m inside Sydney’s NSW supreme court building, awaiting the verdict in the murder trial of Christopher Dawson.

Dawson has been charged with murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, in 1982. He has pleaded not guilty.

NSW supreme court justice Ian Harrison is set to start delivering his verdict at 10am. It has been a judge-only trial, which means Dawson’s fate may not be known until later today, if Harrison delivers his reasons before the verdict.

There were cameras scattered across Queen’s Square on the way in, with reporters doing live crosses to breakfast television. A queue had been snaking outside the court 13A for almost an hour before it opened, with the larger Banco court nearby also available for viewing a live feed of the case.

The court room in which the verdict will be delivered has 54 seats. Several of those have been taken by family members of Christopher Dawson, who has travelled to court for the verdict.

Hedley Thomas, whose hit podcast The Teacher’s Pet made the Dawson case a worldwide phenomenon, is among the throng of journalists who are also inside the court.

Updated at 19.54 EDT

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Where’s the skills at the jobs and skills summit?

In the run-up to the jobs and skills summit in Canberra over Thursday and Friday, there has been a lot more attention on the jobs (particularly on workplace relations) rather than the skills component.

Here we take a closer look, including the long-term reduction in training provided by companies and states:

People interviewed talked about the role that railways, Testra (nee Telecom), the Gas and Fuel Corporation and the State Electricity Commission in Victoria once played in spawning legions of apprenticeships.

The privatisation of many of those businesses resulted in the culling of much of the training, while funding for Tafe and other public organisations has not kept up.

(Think, too, of how the Morrison government left universities out of the $100bn-plus jobkeeper program in a wilful act of future sabotage.)

John Buchanan, a University of Sydney professor who is working on vocational education with the Swiss government, says that country now sends three students to vocational training for every one student going to universities. In Australia, the ratio is closer to half of students heading to universities.

Norway, Denmark and Germany are among other nations that have made serious commitments to vocational education and training. South Korea, Singapore and Japan in our region aren’t slouches either, apparently.

Perhaps at this summit and beyond, we might want to consider what lessons we can glean from them about what the “world’s best practice” for skills looks like.

Updated at 19.39 EDT

Labor announces review of Australian Research Council

The federal education minister, Jason Clare, will later today announce a review of the the Australian Research Council, with the body facing criticism on a lack of transparency and how it operates.

Clare will be speaking to the Australian Financial Review’s higher education summit in Sydney. The AFR itself has published a preview of his speech, where he will also announce a temporary hold on a three-yearly national assessment of the quality of research conducted in Australian universities.

Clare says he will demand the ARC produce a timetable of when funding rounds are announced, and to stick to it:

Delays and political interference damage our international reputation and make it harder for universities to recruit and retain staff.

We need to make sure all future grant rounds are delivered on time, to a predetermined time frame. I have also committed to an independent review of the ARC and the legislation that underpins it.

I know the way the current national interest test operates is causing problems.

When Brian Schmidt, the vice chancellor of ANU, tells you the research he did that won him the Nobel Prize wouldn’t qualify under the current test, you know you have to make some changes.

Updated at 19.26 EDT

Erin Molan wins defamation suit against Daily Mail Australia

Amanda Meade

Amanda Meade

Sky News broadcaster Erin Molan has won a defamation suit against Daily Mail Australia over an article and two tweets which she says portrayed her as racist.

Molan told the federal court last year she did not think she participated in the mockery of Polynesian names when she said “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” on 2GB in 2020.

She has been awarded $150,000 in damages.

Updated at 19.12 EDT

Victoria records 18 deaths and 2,950 new Covid cases

Victoria has recorded 18 deaths overnight, as well as 2,950 new Covid cases:

Updated at 19.44 EDT

NSW records 4,271 new Covid cases and 37 deaths

NSW has reported 37 Covid deaths overnight, with the state recording 4,271 new cases:

COVID-19 update – Tuesday 30 August 2022
In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:
– 97% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine*
– 95.4% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine*

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 29, 2022

Updated at 19.10 EDT

College calls on government to waive Hecs fees for nursing students nationally

The Australian College of Nursing has called on the federal government to waive university fees for nursing students across the country.

In a statement, the ACN calls for the government to adopt the Victorian model, with the college’s acting chief executive, Yvonne Mckinlay, saying the waiving of student debt would help grow the domestic workforce:

This one-off measure is crucial to retaining nurses and addressing shortages in both public and private sectors including primary care, hospitals, aged care and mental health. Every nurse everywhere contributes to the health system.

People aspiring to enter the nursing profession usually want to make a difference in the community. It is important to attract these people, so a waiver would be an important step to support them on their journey.

Additionally, it will provide much-deserved recognition of the immense sacrifice nurses have made to protect our communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updated at 19.10 EDT