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Local News - Victoria

Homicide squad investigate death of man in Hastings


A man has died after he was found with upper body injuries near the main street of a town on the Mornington Peninsula.

Emergency services were called to Queen Street in Hastings, about 70 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, just before 7am on Monday.

The man was found with injuries and paramedics attempted to resuscitate him but he died at the scene.

Detectives from the homicide squad are now investigating the incident.

“The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be determined and the investigation remains ongoing,” a police spokeswoman said.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppersvic.com.au



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Local News - Victoria

Victoria Police continue to investigate tragic deaths in Melbourne’s north-west


Detectives spoke to a large number of people, including the family, friends and neighbours of the deceased, police said.

An extensive forensic examination of the scene was also conducted.

A paramedic lays flowers at the scene on Friday.

A paramedic lays flowers at the scene on Friday.Credit:Jason South

Acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said there would be many people in the community struggling to understand and come to terms with the tragedy.

“This has also been an incredibly difficult time for both the police and paramedics who responded and attended the scene yesterday,” he said.

“This has been an incredibly heart-wrenching experience for all concerned.”

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

Five-year-old Anna Perinovic had been due to start prep in weeks, joining her elder sister Claire at St Christopher’s Primary School in Airport West.

The house in Tullamarine on Friday morning.

The house in Tullamarine on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Instead, the school community has been left devastated by the deaths of both girls, their younger brother Matthew and their mother Katie.

“Our school community is deeply shocked to receive this heartbreaking news and extends sincere sympathy and prayerful support to the Perinovic family and all who are struggling to comprehend this tragic loss of life,” principal Adrian Glasby said.

“Claire was a kind, diligent, and much-loved student at St Christopher’s, and we were looking forward to welcoming Anna, with her huge smile, into prep to begin her school journey in just a couple of weeks’ time.”

Police outside the Perinovic's Tullamarine home on Friday morning.

Police outside the Perinovic’s Tullamarine home on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Daniel and Vicki Schembri heard the police cars pulling up outside their Tullamarine house on Thursday afternoon.

Outside, they found their neighbour of several decades, Tomislav Perinovic, sitting ashen-faced in his front garden in Burgess Street.

“He was just numb,” Vicki said. “He looked bad, he looked very bad.”

They watched as police took his blood pressure, before they were asked to go back inside their house.

It was only a day earlier that his wife, Katie, arrived at their front door to drop off a bag full of ripe plums she had picked from their garden.

Flowers and cards left at the scene.

Flowers and cards left at the scene.Credit:Luis Ascui

Less than 24 hours later, Ms Perinovic and her children would all be found dead inside their home.

The Schembris would often exchange gifts and food with the family, especially around Easter and Christmas. Only a fews weeks earlier, Ms Schembri had brought the children Christmas stockings filled with chocolates and lollies.

Now, the retirees, like friends and neighbours of Ms Perinovic and her three young children have been left struggling to comprehend the tragedy.

On Friday morning police reopened Burgess Street and it was not long before people overcome by grief began arriving at the scene, laying bunches of flowers outside the family’s brown brick home.

A woman and her young daughter visited, placing a handwritten note at makeshift vigil outside the house.

Sienna Stephens and her father Mark from Lancefield, leave flowers.

Sienna Stephens and her father Mark from Lancefield, leave flowers.Credit:Luis Ascui

“To Claire and Matthew and Katey,” it read. “You always are really nice, loving, caring and Claire was my BFF always. Love from Anabelle.”

Mr Glasby said he had given parents advice on how to share the tragic news and support their children.

“Ongoing support and counselling will also be offered to all members of our school community,” he said.

Outside the family’s home, toys including a pink plastic teapot and yellow bucket were left scattered in the front yard.

All the blinds were drawn, but colourful children’s drawings could be seen stuck to the windows.

Marie Groves, who lives around the corner, last saw her friend Ms Perinovic at her daughter Jasmine’s birthday party at the end of November.

It was a warm spring day and the children, who had grown up living just a few hundred metres down the road from each other, played together all afternoon.

On Thursday night, Ms Groves had to tell her two young daughters that Ms Perinovic and the children were dead.

“That was hard. Especially to Jasmine, my youngest. She’s seven, she’s one of Claire’s friends,” Ms Groves said.

“I had to [tell her] because she saw all the cars, and she saw people walking past and starting to mention names, because she was starting to look really worried and scared. It’s really hard, it hasn’t really sunk in properly.”

Friends of Ms Perinovic all described her as a devoted and loving mother, but some noticed she had been withdrawn in the weeks before her death and spent more time inside her home.

Like many parents, she had expressed concern about her children when the coronavirus pandemic took hold, but one friend, who saw her a few weeks before her death said she was quieter and more introverted than usual.

“I remember thinking at the time ‘I hope she is OK’,’ she said. “I look back now and I wonder what was happening at that time.”

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Ms Groves said the neighbourhood was full of young families and all the children often played together in the street, but Ms Perinovic and her children were notably absent in the weeks before their deaths.

“Her kids were always playing in the street, but the past few weeks, I haven’t seen the family at all,” she said.

“We always caught up for play dates. She was over here or we went over to their place. Our daughters did dance classes together. Katie did everything for those children. She was very protective of them and always wanted what was best for them.”

Anyone experiencing difficulties should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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Quiet street in shock as police continue to investigate deaths of Katie Perinovic and her three children


“I had to [tell her] because she saw all the cars, and she saw people walking past and starting to mention names, because she was starting to look really worried and scared. It’s really hard, it hasn’t really sunk in properly.”

Tomislav Perinovic, 48, and his wife Katie, 42. Ms Perinovic and their three children aged 3, 5, and 7 were found dead in their Tullamarine home.

Tomislav Perinovic, 48, and his wife Katie, 42. Ms Perinovic and their three children aged 3, 5, and 7 were found dead in their Tullamarine home. Credit:Facebook

Ms Groves said the neighbourhood was full of young families and all the children often played together in the street.

“Her kids were always playing in the street, but the past few weeks, I haven’t seen the family at all,” she said.

“We always caught up for play dates. She was over here or we went over to their place. Our daughters did dance classes together. Katie did everything for those children. She was very protective of them and always wanted what was best for them.”

Police were alerted to the discovery of the bodies of the mother and her three children just after 12.30pm on Thursday when a man – believed to be her husband Tomislav Perinovic, 48, the children’s father – called emergency services.

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Homicide police continue to investigate the incident and senior police said on Thursday evening it was too soon to speculate about what had occurred inside the Burgess Street home.

On Friday morning, Burgess Street was reopened by police, although detectives remained at the scene.

Outside the brown brick home where the family lived, children’s toys including a pink plastic teapot and yellow bucket were scattered in the front yard.

When asked by reporters if Mr Perinovic was a suspect, police said he was assisting them with their inquires and that murder-suicide remains a line of inquiry.

“He is a person of interest and assisting police with their inquiries,” Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said.

Police outside the Perinovic's Tullamarine home on Friday morning.

Police outside the Perinovic’s Tullamarine home on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

“But we should not draw any conclusions at this point in time. If I was to do so, it would be grossly unfair.”

He said there was no known history of family violence and that he was “not at ­liberty” to detail the ­nature of the injuries sustained by the family, or whether a weapon had been used.

“I don’t want to compromise the investigation,” he said.

“The male has spoken to police and provided an ­account. We will work through this scene methodically. It is very important we do not speculate. The events are yet to be determined.”

Police returned to the scene on Friday morning.

Police returned to the scene on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Friends and neighbours of Ms Perinovic and her three young children have been left struggling to comprehend the tragedy.

On Friday morning, strangers overcome by grief began to arrive at the scene, laying bunches of flowers outside the family’s brown brick home.

Warrick, from Essendon, brought his wife and young child to lay down a small bouquet outside the house.

“We broke down crying when we saw it on the news,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Our whole family are lots for words.”

Warwick visited the scene with his wife and daughter to lay flowers on Friday morning.

Warwick visited the scene with his wife and daughter to lay flowers on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

A neighbour, whose children went to school with the Claire and Anna, said they hadn’t told their children of the deaths yet. He said he was unsure how to begin the conversation with his children and was hoping to get assistance on how to handle the conversation from the school.

The father, who did not want to be named, said his family live around the corner.

“Because we don’t know the full story, we don’t want to jump to conclusions,” he said.

“Hopefully [the school] leads us in the right direction when talking to the kids because it’s not exactly something you talk to your kids about every day.”

A child's drawing in the window of the Perinovic's home.

A child’s drawing in the window of the Perinovic’s home.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Friends said Ms Perinovic (nee Blazevic), who worked as a physiotherapist in nearby Glenroy, had grown up in Tullamarine, and had close family living nearby.

Ms Groves said Ms Perinovic had been extremely proud of her job as physiotherapist and had recently taken on the role of mentoring other young physiotherapists who were beginning their careers.

Tara Jenkins, who lives around the corner in Fisher Court, said she would often see Ms Perinovic take her children to the park, where they would play with her six-year-old son.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” Ms Jenkins said. “Those kids were so young, just beautiful little kids.”

A pink tea pot in the front yard of the Perinovic's home.

A pink tea pot in the front yard of the Perinovic’s home.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Another neighbour John Constantino said he had spoken to Ms Perinovic the night before she died and was struggling to comprehend the tragedy.

“I was watering the garden about 7.30pm and she walked past and she seemed happy and everything,” he said.

“She asked me what I was going to do tomorrow, I said, ‘I might mow the lawn’ and she said ‘yeah, it’s not going to be a hot day’.”

He said described Ms Perinovic as a doting mother and said her children loved to pat his dogs when he would walk them past their house.

Northwest Metro Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Galliott said there were many questions yet to be answered.

“Police will be there in the community, processing the scene throughout the night, so we get these answers,” he said.

A distressed next-door neighbour said on Thursday he had gone outside mid-afternoon when he heard police sirens and was told to stay inside his home.

“It’s very shocking, believe me,” he said.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636, or Kidshelpline 1800 55 1800.

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Local News - Victoria

Police investigate after four found dead at Tullamarine property


Four people have been found dead at a property in Melbourne’s north-west.

Police are at a property in Tullamarine and a man is assisting them with their inquiries.

A police spokesman said a crime scene has been established and the homicide squad are attending.

“The exact circumstances around the incident are under investigation and we will provide more information when it’s appropriate to do so,” she said.

“There is currently no ongoing threat to the community.”

More to come.



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Special prosecutor to investigate police over Nicola Gobbo scandal


Ms Gobbo, dubbed Lawyer X and Informer 3838, gave up information to police about her own clients during Melbourne’s gangland era between 1998 and 2013. Her actions have resulted in two convictions overturned, and they pose a significant threat that others, including those of drug kingpin Tony Mokbel, might also be quashed.

Ms McMurdo was critical of the force’s most senior and decorated officers, including former chief commissioners Simon Overland and Graham Ashton, former gangland taskforce detective Stuart Bateson and taskforce bosses Jim O’Brien and Gavan Ryan.

Ms McMurdo said the police involved had placed their desire to avoid reputational damage, external inquiries and appeals against convictions ahead of their responsibilities as police officers.

“By placing these factors ahead of their duties and obligations, they corrupted the criminal justice system,” Ms McMurdo said in a closing address via video.

Royal commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

Royal commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

Ms Gobbo’s conduct was inexcusable and her behaviour in concert with Victoria Police undermined justice, compromised criminal convictions and damaged the standing of police who were not involved, Ms McMurdo said.

“It has shaken public trust and confidence in Victoria’s legal profession and criminal justice system.”

Ms Hennessy said the state government would act on all of the royal commission’s recommendations, including forming a taskforce to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. She also backed the report’s central call for an independent investigator to determine who could and should be criminally charged.

“The commission’s findings are serious and significant and individuals and organisations must be held accountable,” Ms Hennessy said. “There is still a long and challenging road ahead, but we will do whatever it takes to restore confidence in our justice system.”

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton agreed that the use of Ms Gobbo had been a profound failure by the force, but rejected the suggestion that Victoria Police believed any action was justified to secure convictions.

“While police at the time were certainly grappling with extraordinarily challenging and dangerous times, I reiterate that the ends, did not, and never do, justify the means,” Mr Patton said.

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He said police should continue to have the power to investigate misconduct within their own ranks, and to do otherwise would amount to “outsourcing [police’s] ethical health”.

The Victorian Greens and the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre used the royal commission’s final report to call for Victoria’s corruption agency to be given more power to investigate police misconduct. Currently, police investigate most complaints against officers internally.

Mr Patton said he understood the importance of an independent investigator being appointed to assess claims of illegality in the Gobbo affair, but the principle should not apply to all incidences of police misconduct.

“You cannot outsource and abrogate your responsibilities,” he said, adding he was “very comfortable” with current oversight arrangements.

The royal commission recommended independent oversight over police sources in the form of a public interest monitor, but did not call for another watchdog beyond the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission to investigate police. Instead, IBAC should have more powers to access police source records and enter police premises, and more funding and resources.

Ms McMurdo accused Mr Ashton, who retired this year, of failing in his duty by not acting to stop prosecutions contaminated by Ms Gobbo, including the prosecution of Mokbel and those associated with what’s known as the tomato tins ecstasy bust.

She said Mr Ashton could and should have conveyed a clear public message about the improper and unacceptable conduct by Victoria Police when the scandal came out, but he did not, instead suggesting the use of Ms Gobbo was justified amid the brutal gangland wars.

The royal commission, she wrote, was satisfied Victoria Police had been reluctant to accept responsibility for what had occurred and to be fully transparent about the size and scope of the problem.

As for Mr Overland, Ms McMurdo said he should have identified the grave risks involved in registering a criminal defence barrister as a human source. She said Mr Overland likely did not seek legal advice about her use as an informer because it would limit the information he hoped to obtain to help solve the gangland wars.

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Ms McMurdo said there was an “unacceptable willingness throughout the organisation to tolerate bending the rules to help solve serious crime”.

As part of the final report, the royal commission released the names of 124 affected people, of which about 70 are still in jail, including Mokbel. An appeal against his conviction could be bolstered by Monday’s findings, with Ms McMurdo saying Ms Gobbo likely breached her professional legal duties to him even though their relationship was also a personal one.

The royal commission found Ms Gobbo gave police extensive information about Mokbel’s finances and while representing him at trial, told police about his prospect for acquittal and attitude to pleading guilty along with defence strategies. After he fled via boat to Greece, she remained in contact with him and shared details with police while assisting in his extradition.

Though Ms Gobbo argued she helped police because she was affronted by Mokbel’s criminality, Ms McMurdo said: “The criminal justice system could not function if lawyers took on the role of deciding if clients deserved to be informed on to police, in breach of their professional obligations to those clients and the administration of justice.”

But despite the damage done to the justice system by Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police, the royal commission stopped short of recommending a total ban on using lawyers as informers.

Ms McMurdo said while “it is almost never appropriate for police to use a lawyer as a human source to provide information about their own client”, a prohibition was not warranted because there “may be limited circumstances in which the use of such sources may be justified”.

The royal commission also noted that lack of co-operation from Victoria Police meant it could not conclusively determine whether 12 other “potential Gobbos” – legal professionals with obligations of confidentiality or privilege – might have inappropriately provided information against clients and others.

It has called on the government to appoint an independent figure to get to the bottom of the enduring question.

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“Based on the information available to the commission, there is no evidence to indicate that Victoria Police’s use of any human sources, other than Ms Gobbo, resulted in the use of confidential or privileged information that may have affected the validity of any criminal prosecutions or convictions,” the report says.

The royal commission’s two-year operation has cost $39.5 million, which does not include the legal bills for many of the parties involved, including Victoria Police, Ms Gobbo and the Office of Public Prosecutions, that have also been picked up by the taxpayer.

But the handing down of the report is not the end of the Gobbo saga. Apart from the looming appointment of a special investigator, at least five appeals are already under way, and more are expected to follow in the wake of the royal commission’s findings.

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Police investigate CCTV in pizza virus mystery


Police in South Australia are combing through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage as they attempt to unravel a possible lie that forced the state into a six-day lockdown.

It comes as the state enters a “critical” seven days as health officials anxiously await any potential cases of community transmission.

On Monday afternoon, assistant commissioner Peter Harvey, who is leading a special police task-force to investigate whether contact tracers were lied to in the days before the statewide lockdown, said 36 detectives were going through “every frame” of more than 400 hours of closed circuit TV.

The CCTV relates to a man who worked at the pizza bar alongside another man who worked a second job as a security guard at the Peppers Hotel who became infected with the virus. Much of the footage is recorded at that venue.

RELATED: Spanish man may be deported after causing lockdown

RELATED: SA Premier says coronavirus catastrophe avoided

RELATED: Pizza worker’s ‘customer’ lie caused 6-day lockdown

Officers under Task force Protect seized electronic devices belonging to the Woodville Pizza Bar worker at the centre of South Australia’s COVID-19 lockdown.

The 36-year-old Spanish national may be deported pending the outcome of the investigation.

The medi-hotel worker initially claimed he had caught the virus from a Woodville Pizza Bar pizza box.

It sparked fears of widespread community transmission across the state and led to the implementation of a swift, six-day lockdown.

The lockdown was wound back on Saturday, three days early, after it was revealed the man had worked in the bar with the security guard.

“The person has also been spoken to by detectives from the Task force and I am pleased at this stage to say, from what I have seen, he has been cooperative and that has been helpful,” Assistant Commissioner Harvey said.

“We have conducted analysis of more than 400 hours of closed circuit TV. That has been quite an arduous task for up to 36 officers in total.

“We’ll look at every frame.

“It may be nothing – that’s why we’re looking, that’s the whole purpose of an investigation.”

“There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of desire for something to be done, but it will be done carefully, it will be done clinically,” he said.

“And we’ll put our case forward – there may not be a case. Just the same, there may well be. That’s the point of the investigation.”

Police want to speak with two other people “related to the pizza shop” but provided no details.

The Guardian claims the man at the centre of inquiries is “unaware” of the attention surrounding him as he “remains in hotel quarantine”.

“The man’s lawyer, Scott Jelbert, principal at Camena, said his client was unaware of the extent of the public focus on his case due to having his devices taken from him by police as part of the investigation,” the publication revealed.

Mr Jelbert said the man might release a statement on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, the state’s top cop revealed the dishonesty that led to South Australia’s lockdown is not believed to be “contained to one person”.

“We recognised the seriousness of the consequences from this particular set of events. We don’t think the dishonesty is contained to one person and we need to knock this over as quickly as possible.”

No charges have yet been laid and he said there are still several more days of investigations to go while also stressing there was no presumption of guilt.

Premier Steven Marshall said authorities were still working to determine if the Spanish national broke any laws.

“We think the people of South Australia deserve some answers on this and we will look at every opportunity for there to be some consequences for this person,” he told ABC’s News Breakfast on Monday.

It comes as South Australia’s top public health officer has hinted the state might see another easing of COVID-19 restrictions next week.

The cluster of most concern to authorities – the Parafield cluster – grew by one case on Monday after a woman in a medi-hotel tested positive. The case is of less concern than community transmission because the woman has been in quarantine since last Monday.

Yet South Australian officials are marking December 1 as the date the state can return to a COVID normal status, where dancing would be allowed again.

Alongside South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, Professor Nicola Spurrier said she feels “quietly confident” the state has escaped its second wave but has urged caution for the next two weeks.

“We have done our absolute best, looking back, I don’t think there’s any thing else that we could’ve done better to avoid it. And that’s really what we want to have, is no regrets.”

Premier Marshall said he was feeling so optimistic that by Christmas residents will be experiencing “new-found freedoms with family and friends”.

“What a difference a week makes,” Mr Marshall said.

“South Australia has risen to this challenge, we stared down a catastrophic situation by acting swiftly and decisively.

“The fact that we have had no community transmission in South Australia is absolutely crucial.

“Let’s be clear, every single one of the infections that we have reported can be traced back to source. I know that that is making our public health officials in South Australia very relieved

and I know that it is the important information that we need to provide to other jurisdictions so that we can hope to have our border restrictions eased as we head towards Christmas.”

But the good news still comes with a warning that the state is “still not out of the woods yet”, as there is always a risk of more cases with authorities still “concerned” about the Parafield cluster.

Professor Spurrier said the next 14 days were “critical” for the state and again urged anyone who has symptoms — regardless of how mild — to get tested immediately.

“If it leaked out and we couldn’t get hold of every single, possible close contact and their close contact, this week and next week we would start to see some cases which is why we’re urging all South Australian to wear a face mask.”

Professor Jodie McVernon, Director of Doherty Epidemiology at the Doherty Institute, told the ABC early contract tracing helped avoid the catastrophe.

“I think what we saw in South Australia is this whole outbreak was caught incredibly quickly.

“Even though that initial assessment that this was an infection spreading very fast reflected how quickly those contacts and secondary contacts were being found.”

The state’s total has now reached 556 cases with 38 considered active.



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IBAC says it won’t investigate George Pell Vatican wire transfer claims


Victoria’s anti-corruption agency says it will not investigate allegations that Vatican funds were used in an attempt to secure child sex abuse charges against Cardinal George Pell, finding there was not enough merit in the claims.

Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera published stories in October claiming a rival of Cardinal Pell’s was suspected of arranging for €700,000 ($1.1 million) to be transferred to people in Australia to support the prosecution of the charges.

Cardinal George Pell has returned to Rome.

Cardinal George Pell has returned to Rome.Credit:Andrew Medichini

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission said the media reports were not enough to kickstart an investigation.

“IBAC confirms it received information based on media reports which alleged Vatican funds were transferred to individuals in support of the recent case against George Pell,” the statement said.



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Rachelle Miller calls for Scott Morrison to investigate after revealing affair with Alan Tudge


The ex-lover of Liberal frontbencher Alan Tudge has lodged a formal complaint over her treatment in parliament revealing she believes she was “black-listed” by the Liberal Party as the Prime Minister was accused of “mansplaining” to a female minister.

Mother of two Rachelle Miller, a respected senior press secretary during the Turnbull Government, confessed to a sexual relationship with Mr Tudge last night on Four Corners.

Taking to social media to directly challenge the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, she said on Tuesday that it was never just about a consensual relationship in the workplace.

“ScottMorrison, it’s not about the #bonkban It’s about how I was treated in our workplace, which ended my career!’’ Ms Miller said.

“Those Ministers were promoted, I was black-listed. I made a formal complaint, will you ensure it’s investigated?”

The wife of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also weighed in with support for Ms Miller on Tuesday after watching the expose.

“Totally unfair on women like Rachelle Miller caught in this. However consensual relationships are, women pay the price,’’ Lucy Turnbull said.

Ms Miller worked as a press secretary for Mr Tudge when he was in human services, admitting the working relationship turned romantic in 2017, a decision she ultimately bitterly regretted.

Earlier, Scott Morrison demanded journalists stop referring to a “bonk ban” when it comes to workplace rules prohibiting senior ministers having sex with their staff describing it as demeaning a serious issue.

“Sorry, how this ban is referred to I think is quite dismissive of the seriousness of the issue and I would ask the media to stop referring to it in that way,’’ he said.

“We took it very seriously and I think constantly referring to it in that way dismisses the seriousness of this issue, it’s a very serious issue. Thanks.”

But it was his decision to jump in and answer the question after the social services minister Anne Rushton was asked for her reflections on being a woman in politics that prompted social media to erupt that the Prime Minister was “mansplaining”.

“Scott, just let her speak,’’ Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said on Twitter.

On Monday, the former press secretary Ms Miller revealed she had an affair with Mr Tudge while working in his office and was left feeling like “damaged goods” after he asked her to war-game denials.

Ms Miller told Four Corners that Canberra could be a “highly sexualised environment.”

“I don’t for a moment kind of say that all the men were predators and all the women were victims, but, you know, it was a highly sexualised environment at times, and I think that’s a consequence of the stress,” she said.

“It’s kind of that “work hard, play hard” mentality that I’ve seen before early in my career And there is a kind of … an almost gung-ho kind of mentality by a lot of the senior males that they’re kind of almost beyond reproach, like, they can just get away with things. And nobody calls that behaviour out.”

The program detailed Mr Tudge’s conservative views and his public reservations about changing the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples.

After the affair ended, Ms Miller said she was later demoted in a restructure and felt she had no choice but to leave politics.

“I knew I was leaving a job that I really loved, but I didn’t see that there was any other way out,’’ she said.

“You know, I actually at that time viewed myself as damaged goods and I was really worried about this coming out and impacting our chances at the election.”

Mr Tudge said in a statement: “Matters that occurred in my personal life in 2017 were aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program.

“I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced.”

In 2018, Mr Turnbull rewrote the code of ministerial standards to ban ministers from having sexual relationships with staff

However, the affair Ms Miller took place in 2017 when Mr Tudge was in Human Services, a period in which she also later moved out of his office and into another minister’s office.

As a result, there’s no suggestion that Mr Tudge was in breach of the code, which only applied to sex with staffers in your office.

Four Corners did not claim that any senior minister had breached the “bonk ban” or the code of conduct.

The broadcast of the program last night follows allegations raised by Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour that the political pressure applied to the ABC had been “extreme and unrelenting.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter has flatly rejected claims he was kissing a young staffer in a Canberra bar.

But he repeatedly declined to say if he had ever had a sexual relationship with another Liberal staffer.

“I’m not even sure the program made that allegation,’’ he said.

“They (the ABC report) indicated I had, I think implied that I had with a person I had a drink at a bar with and I said to Four Corners that their depiction of those interactions in that bar three-and-a-half- years ago were wrong. I told Malcolm there was no substance to rumours around that bar story.”

When asked again if he had ever had a sexual relationship with a staffer, Mr Porter said: “I’ve answered your question.”

Mr Porter insisted his looming divorce from second wife Jennifer Negus was not because of “this sort of stuff”.

“I feel so desperately sorry for my beautiful wife Jen that she had to watch all of that and see this stuff from university and see it cut up and chopped up in that way,” he said.

“Now, like any couple we had our ups and downs and problems and difficulties and I would say I was far from a perfect husband in many regards but our separation was not about this sort of stuff.

“I’ve never breached that ministerial code of conduct and there’s never been any suggestion I have.”



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Victoria Police, IBAC can’t investigate Lawyer X cops, top corruption lawyer says


Mr Drummond, the special prosecutor appointed by the Queensland government to investigate crooked cops exposed by the Fitzgerald royal commission, said investigations into police implicated in the Lawyer X scandal should also be at “arm’s length” from Victoria’s peak anti-corruption agency, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

IBAC examined the Lawyer X saga five years ago and did not find evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of any current or former police.

Michael O'Brien in Parliament last week.

Michael O’Brien in Parliament last week.Credit:Jason South

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien last week asked Attorney-General Jill Hennessy in Parliament whether she would follow the Queensland path and commit to establishing a special prosecutor.

Ms Hennessy said the government would await the recommendations of the royal commission.

Ms Gobbo, a former defence barrister, was a registered police informer who ratted on her own clients. Counsel assisting the royal commission has invited Commissioner McMurdo to find that Ms Gobbo’s police handlers and senior officers who supervised their work may have engaged in criminal conduct. Potential offences included misconduct in public office and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Both are punishable by jail.

Commissioner McMurdo has decided not to name any current or former police implicated in criminal conduct, noting this could have a prejudicial impact on future legal proceedings.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

It remains unclear, in the absence of the establishment of a special prosecutor and supporting taskforce, how information gathered by the royal commission can be developed into admissible evidence to support criminal charges.

Testimony provided to a royal commission cannot be used against that witness in criminal proceedings.

Former IBAC commissioner Stephen Bryan said the anti-corruption body was the “logical entity” to investigate police, but it would need more resources.

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“Bearing in mind the vastness of evidence gathered to date and complexity of the issues involved, any such task would be substantial and therefore necessitate adequate special funding for IBAC by the Victorian government,” he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC, submitted to the royal commission that to investigate police implicated in the scandal, it would require a government referral, additional support and, potentially, expanded powers.

“As I have publicly acknowledged in the past, IBAC lacks some of the necessary powers it should have to properly investigate complaints received against police officers, some of which affect its ability to gather admissible evidence,” he said.

“It is in fact the only commission throughout Australia whose investigators do not have the same powers as a police officer.”

Mr Redlich noted that current and former police at the centre of the Lawyer X scandal were previously examined by IBAC during the 2015 inquiry led by former Victorian Supreme Court judge Murray Kellam.

Mr Drummond said a special prosecutor would require its own taskforce and needed to be independent of “political direction”. He contrasted this to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who by law is “responsible to the Attorney-General for the due performance or his or her functions”.

DPP Kerri Judd, QC, rejected this. “Contrary to the statements in Mr Drummond, QC’s, submissions, the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions are, and have always been, carried out independently of Victoria Police and the Attorney-General of Victoria,” she said.

Mr Drummond said the Andrews government had “benefited politically” from its relationship with Victoria Police, which did not pursue charges against anyone involved in the “Red Shirts” scandal involving Labor MP staffers doing campaign work.

“There should not be room for any perception that decisions whether any serving or former Victoria police [officers] should be prosecuted may be subject to political influence keen to ensure continuing police support,” he submitted.

Commissioner McMurdo is due to hand down her findings on 30 November.

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NSW Police Organised Crime Squad sets up strike force to investigate Sam Burgess allegations


NSW Police says it has set up a strike force to investigate domestic violence and drug allegations against former South Sydney Rabbitohs player Sam Burgess.

The police confirmed its Organised Crime Squad has established Strike Force Irrabella to look at the allegations which emerged following an article in The Australian newspaper.

The Rabbitohs have been rocked by claims by the publication that the club covered up alleged domestic violence and drug use by former captain Burgess.

On Friday, Burgess stepped down from his position as an assistant coach with the Rabbitohs and from a broadcast role with Fox Sports.

He has denied the allegations.

Burgess’s lawyer, Mark O’Brien, told The Australian: “The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client.”

Earlier, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett denied the misconduct allegations were common knowledge at the club.

“That is not true, it wasn’t known widely within the club because I’ve been here since the end of ’18 and I knew nothing about it until I was told in the last 24 hours,” he said.

“I’ve never had a player or any staff member since I’ve been here talk to me about it in any shape, form or manner.”

“I’ve never heard a rumour or a whisper about Sam Burgess and drugs.”

A man with grey hair looking pensive.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett says the revelations are not a distraction ahead of the finals.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Bennett said he had spoken to Burgess but would not go into detail about their conversation.

“I’m not going to discuss my relationship with Sam — we know where we stand with each other,” he said.

Burgess’s lawyer has claimed the sources of the allegations “are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues”.

Bennett strongly rejected suggestions the issue would impact on the side’s performance in Sunday night’s qualifier against the Newcastle Knights.

“It has no impact on the team whatsoever, Sam’s not part of the team in the sense that he’s not playing, he’s not required to play, we’ve come this far without him this year, he’s retired,” Bennett said.

“You can make it out into as big of a headline as you like, you can talk it up as much as you like, but I’m going to tell you now it’s not going to have an impact on the playing group here because it’s distant from us.”

Two men sitting in an empty stadium.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett says he had spoken to Sam Burgess since the allegations came to light.(AAP: Darren England)



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