Morning Mail: dramatic twist in Lehrmann defamation trial, Israel admits killing aid workers, Taylor Swift’s billionaire era

<span>Bruce Lehrmann is alleged to have paid for illicit drugs and sex workers while Seven was courting him for a television interview. Seven denies the claims.</span><span>Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP</span>
Bruce Lehrmann is alleged to have paid for illicit drugs and sex workers while Seven was courting him for a television interview. Seven denies the claims.Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Morning, everyone. Sex, drugs, and a round of golf: what Bruce Lehrmann allegedly spent Channel Seven’s money on while the network was making a Spotlight program about him, according to a producer’s sworn affidavit. The claims, denied by Seven, have provided a dramatic twist in the former Liberal staffer’s defamation case. We have the details coming up, plus Israel acknowledged responsibility for killing seven aid workers including Australian Zomi Frankcom, and how Australian business groups responded when asked if bosses should accept pay rises of only 2%.


  • ‘Dark money’ | Federal crossbenchers have urged the government to strengthen laws around political donations after the source of millions of dollars in “dark money” poured into the Indigenous voice referendum campaign was hidden in official disclosures.

  • Lehrmann defamation trial | Taylor Auerbach, a former Seven producer, has sworn an affidavit saying text messages and receipts in his possession show tens of thousands of dollars was billed to the network while the Spotlight program was courting Bruce Lehrmann for an exclusive television interview. The affidavit, which includes allegations that Lehrmann paid for illicit drugs and sex workers, has not been tested in court yet but will be used as evidence in Channel Ten’s case as it defends a defamation suit brought by Lehrmann.

  • Student boom | The number of international students in Australia has topped 700,000 for the first time, helping to drive the number of temporary entrants to 2.8 million, another new record.

  • Exclusive | The energy company AGL was warned it was taking money from the welfare payments of former customers and was sent daily updates on the transactions being made on the company’s behalf via the government debit scheme Centrepay, but failed to stop more than $700,000 in wrongful deductions, court documents allege.

  • Net zero warning | Australia faces a postwar-style reconstruction costing hundreds of billions of dollars in private and public investment to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, the former Labor climate minister Greg Combet has warned.


  • Gaza crisis | The humanitarian crisis in Gaza seems likely to worsen after charities announced they are suspending operations in the aftermath of an Israeli drone attack that killed seven aid workers, including an Australian, Zomi Frankcom. The decision came after Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, admitted that the Israel Defense Forces had carried out the attack that but that it was a “tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people”. Doctors in Gaza, meanwhile, have accused Israeli snipers of shooting at children – claims the IDF says it “completely rejects”.

  • Trump delays | The prospects of Donald Trump going to trial in July on charges of retaining national security documents are fading with the judge overseeing the case yet to issue a schedule. And Trump’s Republican supporters have proposed renaming Washington’s Dulles airport after their hero as a “symbol of freedom”.

  • Nightclub fire | A daytime fire at a nightclub in Istanbul that was closed for renovations has killed at least 29 people. Five people, including managers, have been detained for questioning.

  • The billionaire era | Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras tour of Australia has helped her become one of 141 people who have become billionaires this year, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s richest people.

  • It came from outer space | Nasa is investigating after a chunk of metal believed to be part of a discarded battery pallet from the International Space Station crashed through the roof of a house in Florida last month.

Full Story

Labor’s big deportation miscalculation

Chief political correspondent Paul Karp explains why Labor’s deportation bill is so controversial and what it could mean for people seeking asylum.


The leaders of business groups have called for the lowest paid workers to limit their pay demands to no more than 2%. In light of the fact that the average pay of top bosses has increased from 17 times average earnings in the early 1990s to about 55 times now, we thought it might be a good idea to ask them if company bosses were prepared to stick to the same ceiling. Find out what they said to our reporters Jonathan Barrett and Peter Hannam.

Not the news

In our new monthly series Headline Act we spotlight the Australian artist we’re most excited about – and they make us a playlist. This month it’s the turn of Jebediah, the 90s rockers who have reunited for their first new album for 11 years. Searching for a way to describe the feeling, frontman Kevin Mitchell says: “When we get into a room, the four of us, it almost feels like it’s 1995 and the outside world doesn’t exist.”

The world of sport

  • Cricket | Georgia Wareham has shown why Australia’s selectors view her as a future all-rounder, hitting her first international half-century in a 58-run Twenty20 win over Bangladesh.

  • AFL | Geelong have been warned by the AFL after cameras caught Tom Hawkins using a mobile phone in the dressing rooms during the match against Hawthorn on Monday – in breach of strict integrity rules.

  • Rugby union | Sam Whitelock, who has a record 153 caps for the All Blacks, will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

Media roundup

Half of Melbourne’s live music venues could close due to soaring operating costs, industry figures tell the Age. Perth’s ferry system could be expanded after the city posted the biggest population growth of any Australian city, the West Australian says. Queensland is braced for months of more wet weather as La Niña is forecast to return for a fourth time since 2020 this winter, the Courier-Mail warns.

What’s happening today

  • Sydney | Chris Minns and Peter Dutton will address a national small business summit to discuss economic and policy issues.

  • Canberra | Rosie Batty will speak at the National Press Club.

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Brain teaser

And finally, here are the Guardian’s crosswords to keep you entertained throughout the day. Until tomorrow.