As it happened: Israel lashes ‘wretched’ Jerusalem decision; flooding continues in Victoria – Sydney Morning Herald

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Well, that’s all from us today. If you’re only just joining us, then here are the biggest headlines of the day:
Broede Carmody will be with you bright and early tomorrow morning to take you through the news of the day.
The head of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption says public hearings play a key role in underpinning the accountability of the agency, telling a federal parliamentary inquiry he would have concerns if allegations were examined entirely in private.
Addressing the controversy over the proposed bill to establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission, which mandates private hearings unless there are exceptional circumstances, NSW ICAC chief commissioner John Hatzistergos told the inquiry he was a “strong supporter of public hearings” because they kept state agency transparent and accountable.
NSW ICAC chief commissioner John Hatzistergos, pictured in 2010.
“We’ve had investigations which have commenced in public and as a result of that information, other people have come forward and we’ve been able to go into other areas, which have raised significant issues of corruption,” he said.
“It also, I think, shows transparency and accountability for the agency and justifies the case that ultimately is made for change.”
Read the full story here.
The Australian sharemarket closed higher after earnings helped drive Wall Street higher across the board, adding to yesterday’s big gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 closed up 0.31 per cent, or 20.9 points, to 6800.1 today. Energy and tech stocks were down 0.75 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively, at market close. All other sectors were up, led by utilities. Yesterday, the ASX jumped by 1.7 per cent.
The Australian sharemarket has closed higher.Credit:Louie Douvis
Gains from mining companies bolstered the Aussie market. Pilbara Minerals lifted 5.83 per cent, Allkem added 4.99 per cent, and Core Lithium jumped 8.24 per cent.
Chalice Mining added 5 per cent after confirming a major extension of its Julimar Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Element Project in Western Australia.
Elsewhere, Qantas gained 1.69 per cent following a buyback announcement, and Domino’s Pizza edged 1.74 per cent higher.
Read the full wrap here.
A purported hacking group has threatened to sell extensive health information about customers of Medibank Private, including diagnoses of sensitive medical conditions and credit card information, unless the insurance company pays a ransom.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been unable to verify the authenticity of the claims made in the threat or the identity of the hackers.
But in a purported message to Medibank, seen by this masthead, the company was told that the hackers claim to have 200 gigabytes of stolen sensitive information. They say they have sent proof of the authenticity of the stolen data to Medibank and offer to send more, before issuing a series of threats in poor English to back up their blackmail.
Medibank detected a cybersecurity breach last week and began investigating.Credit:Louise Kennerley
“We offer to start negotiations in another case we will start realizing our ideas like 1. Selling your Database to third parties 2. But before this we will take 1k most media persons from yourdatabase (criteria is: most followers, politicians, actors, bloggers, LGBT activists, drug addictive people, etc) Also we’ve found people with very interesting diagnoses. And we’ll email them their information.”
Hackers routinely demand major ransoms for the return or deletion of stolen information but payment is no guarantee that they will follow through, given the criminal nature of their actions.
In a statement released to the ASX this afternoon, the company said: “Today, Medibank Group has received messages from a group that wishes to negotiate with the company regarding their alleged removal of customer data.
“This is a new development and Medibank understands this news will cause concerns for customers and the protection of their data remains our priority.
“Medibank is working urgently to establish if the claim is true, although based on our ongoing forensic investigation we are treating the matter seriously at this time.”
Read the full story here.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was “ridiculous” for the Bureau of Meteorology to be talking about branding when people’s lives were at risk from dangerous weather.
Plibersek said the attempt to rebrand from “BoM” to “the Bureau” was initiated under the former government and the full cost was $220,296.
This includes $118,177 paid to Era-Co, a consultancy company, for brand strategy and design; $69,300 to The C Word agency for communication and implementation planning support, and $32,819 in implementation costs including updating materials.
Plibersek said Australians could “make up their own minds” what to call the organisation.
“What matters is accurate and timely weather information for communities, particularly during severe weather like we’re experiencing right now. That’s where my focus is. People are hurting,” she said.
A statement from the Bureau of Meteorology said “the refresh in our visual identity had not diverted resources for understanding and communicating the weather”.
Moving across to some international news, and Martin Luther King III – the son of one of the world’s most renowned civil rights leaders – believes the US should consider Australia’s voting system as a way of protecting democracy.
With three weeks until the midterm elections, King says he is open to the idea of compulsory voting, as well as the notion of a preferential system – known in America as “ranked choice” voting.
Martin Luther King III with daughter Yolanda and wife Arndrea Waters King.Credit:Farrah Tomazin
“I think it’s something we might need to consider,” he said when asked by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age what he thought of both options.
“It’s certainly something that should be debated.”
King is the eldest living son of the late Martin Luther King Jnr, one of the most prominent leaders of the civil rights movement, who devoted much of his life to ending segregation and advancing equality in the US.
Through Martin Luther King Jnr’s campaigning, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B Johnson, seeking to remove restrictions that had prevented African Americans from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
However, more than 50 years since he was assassinated, voter suppression remains an ongoing issue in the US, particularly among black and brown communities.
Read the full story by North America correspondent Farrah Tomazin here.
Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson has addressed the National Press Club in Canberra this afternoon calling for an “urgent political solution” to the plight of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Robinson has represented Assange since 2010, when he released 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables in collaboration with international media organisations, causing a global furore. She was the subject of a Good Weekend profile last weekend.
Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson says the solution for Julian Assange is political not legal.Credit:John Davis
Robinson told the Press Club Assange’s health had declined during his seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and had deteriorated further over the 3½ years in the high-security Belmarsh prison. Last year he suffered a mini stroke during a court hearing.
Robinson said the legal road ahead could take years, perhaps even a decade, through the British, European and American courts.
“This case needs an urgent political solution,” Robinson said. “Julian does not have another decade to wait for a legal fix. It might be surprising to hear me, as a lawyer, say this: but the solution is not legal, it is political.”
Robinson said the Obama administration did not indict Assange because it would criminalise journalism, while the Trump administration had no such qualms and indicted Assange “to send a message to the press, to deter journalism and publishing”.
She wanted to see Prime Minister Anthony Albanese “taking questions at a press conference about Julian’s release – rather than about Julian’s death in custody”.
Albanese has previously said of Assange’s ongoing incarceration that “enough is enough”. Robinson said Albanese now needed to put that statement into action, and the media and public needed to hold the government to account.
Independent MP Zoe Daniel says the Albanese government behaved in an “offensive and inappropriate” way by announcing it would no longer recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on a holy Jewish holiday.
Daniel’s Melbourne seat of Goldstein has a significant number of Jewish voters.
Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Echoing earlier statements from fellow “teal” MP Allegra Spender, Daniel said the government’s actions were “disappointing and poorly executed”.
“Australia’s emphasis must be on supporting a two-state solution under which the Israeli and Palestinian people co-exist within secure and peaceful borders,” she said.
“Suddenly reversing Australia’s position in such an ill-considered way does nothing to advance that policy.”
Daniel said the Morrison government arguably decided to recognise West Jerusalem for domestic political gain ahead of the 2018 Wentworth byelection.
“Israel is always weakened whenever the issue becomes partisan,” she said.
“That said, the way in which that decision has been reversed by Labor has shown disrespect to an ally, and without consultation with our Jewish communities. Making such an announcement on a holy day was offensive and inappropriate.”
The government announced the decision on Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday.
Daniel said there were significant differences of opinion on the government’s decision in the Jewish community, with some supportive and others opposed.
Outgoing Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) chair Wayne Byres says falling house prices have both financial and social benefits, and he predicts the banking system will weather the property slump caused by rising interest rates.
Byres, who is stepping down from APRA at the end of this month after eight years in the job, said in his final public speech today that the “Australian obsession” of housing had been a constant feature of his time running the banking regulator.
Outgoing APRA chair Wayne Byres says the housing “obsession” has been a constant feature of his time in the job.Credit:Natalie Boog
Byres told a business lunch in Sydney that house prices were falling faster than many had expected a year ago, and homeowners who were highly geared or had low levels of equity in their home could be “particularly challenged”. But he suggested the falls should not be a surprise and banks could weather the slump, adding that lower house prices had a positive side.
“Australia now finds itself in an environment we all knew would eventually come: one of rising interest rates and falling house prices. Both are occurring sooner, and at a faster rate, than most people anticipated a year ago,” Byres said at a Financial Services Institute of Australasia event.
Read the full story here.
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