It’s not journalists’ questions that are unfair to Nicola Spurrier


It isn’t unfair for journalists to ask the tough questions about the state’s COVID-19 response – but there is a problem in the government presenting an unelected public servant as the ultimate word on every policy response, argues Kevin Naughton.

The text message reply from one of Adelaide’s most respected journalists was disconcerting: “No bastard wants to be seen to be attacking Nicola.”

It was a response to my observation that bureaucracies are adept at ring-fencing their mistakes and how sad it was that journalists were being shut down, criticised or ignored when seeking information regarding the pizza-inspired lockdown of the entire state.

The shutdown was based on “the health advice”, the Premier Steven Marshall said, as did the Police Commissioner.

When that advice changed, the media wanted to know when, how, why, who etc.

Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier would not be drawn on whether a mistake had been made in checking the story of a confirmed case who appeared to have been infected via a pizza box. The Premier also avoided the issue of cross-checking, preferring the more dramatic view that he was “fuming” at what he described as a lie told by a pizza shop worker.

That was Friday – one short and very long week ago.

By Monday, the defence of the shutdown was even more strident.

Professor Spurrier did not respond to ABC Radio presenter Ali Clarke’s question about whether or not the pizza story had been cross-checked via receipts, travel records, a second person to verify or mobile phone location services. Instead, she repeated her line that we had averted a second wave.

The Premier stuck to the same message telling national television programs that “you only get one chance to stop a second wave”. Nationally, other infectious disease experts weren’t buying the South Australian line.

The ABC’s Ali Clarke, meanwhile, revealed to listeners she was getting text messages while still on the air, attacking her for asking tough questions of the Chief Public Health Officer. No wonder, because Professor Spurrier was being used daily as the State Government’s reference point of absolute truth and power.

But the media was getting edgy about the infallibility of the State Government’s shield.

What sparked the media curiosity was the revelation last Friday by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens that police had ascertained that the Woodville pizza story didn’t stack up. When a review team was sent to re-interview the man, later revealed as a Spanish national here on a graduates visa, the premise on which the lockdown was based fell apart, he said.

The sure and steady Commissioner appeared none-too-impressed with the health blunder, but he didn’t seek to throw direct blame, instead assembling a taskforce to examine what went wrong.

That same day, when journalists started questioning Professor Spurrier about the possibility of a blunder they were redirected to the heroic story of a young doctor who had taken a respiratory swab from a patient and discovered the first case in the Parafield cluster. The same doctor was made available to The Advertiser and then morning radio. Not so, however, the contact tracer who missed a key part of the pizza worker’s movements. That part of the story is likely to be sealed and put away and the worker never mentioned.

The Premier did, however, find time again to say he was “fuming” at the deceit of the pizza worker. The classic political strategy of “sharing the rage” was in full view as the pizza shop and its employee became villains.

Yet there remain a lot of unanswered questions and it is the media’s role to continue to seek answers, even if they are targeted for daring to query the person promoted by the State Government as its source of unquestioned advice – a bureaucratic saint.

It is still not clear why a shutdown was ordered based on one piece of data that was not tested or cross-checked. Did the Police Commissioner, the next day, consider that story didn’t stack up, and send an officer to re-interview the pizza worker? Is there a conflict between two of the three key decision-makers?

What was the basis for Professor Spurrier indicating that this cluster is from a particularly “sneaky: strain of COVID-19, a claim dismissed by a prominent senior medical specialist interstate? Is this statement now wrong? If so, has it been corrected?

Why did SA Health believe – at least for a time – that the virus survived and travelled on a pizza box when such a view is contrary to medical evidence from around the world? Exactly what steps will be taken in the future to cross-check unusual propositions such as the pizza contamination assumption?

Will anyone put their hand up to say “we made a mistake” and apologise? That alone might take the heat out of this story and counter the now widespread confusion in the community.

But correcting mistakes doesn’t appear to be high on the priority list in the management of this pandemic.

Remember the baggage handlers’ outbreak at Adelaide Airport?

We were told to clean our luggage and Qantas and the Airport were put in the frame for their hygiene practices.

An SA Health source told me that the outbreak was later traced to an infected and symptomatic worker going to work and passing it on the other workers – not from contaminated luggage or any other source.

Does SA Health need to make an adjustment to that part of the story?

And then there was the Tanunda cluster – what happened with the disappearing USA touring couple? How did they skip quarantine?

By Monday last week, the Premier’s Liberal Party colleague Nick McBride MP was on the attack, unwilling to play the game of convincing us that we had just avoided a calamity. He said a mistake had been made.

By Monday, the Premier had conceded that the Parafield cluster was contained with every case tracked to a known source.

Yet also on Monday, Professor Spurrier was still adamant that there had been no time to pause and check the pizza concept and there were no regrets. Businesses and stood-down workers, however, had plenty of regrets. The doubt now underpins widespread falls in business activity.

And also last week, questions were being asked interstate that need to be answered by SA Health, given that the “evidence was slim for the theories used to initially justify an unprecedented lockdown”.

Four days later, a new case connected to the same pizza bar was met by a different response. Again, the Premier and his government deferred to “the health advice”.

That advice comes via a Chief Public Health Officer promoted by government PR machines as saintly.

They have ridden on the back of Professor Spurrier’s flawless reputation, based on her clarity of communication, dedication to public health and extreme work ethic. It’s a reputation well-deserved. But a health officer cannot carry the burden of broad social and economic outcomes. That is the job of an elected Premier, his Health Minister and Cabinet members.

It’s also an unfair burden for Nicola Spurrier that she is promoted as perfect and bestowed quasi-sainthood.

It’s time the Premier took the front stage and the responsibility and Professor Spurrier resumed the role of adviser to government. It’s the model used by every other state Premier, based on the concept that they are elected by the people and are responsible to the parliament.

The fact that some of our top journalists are being targeted for asking questions that are fair, reasonable and necessary is not a healthy sign.

There is never any reason to fear the truth, because cover-ups never end well.

Don’t assume that any bureaucrat is a saint and cannot be questioned; nor should we assume that anyone is immune from error.

If journalists are asking difficult questions, it’s because the integrity of our health system could be at stake.

Don’t ask, don’t discover.

Kevin Naughton is a former senior journalist and broadcaster. He was a political adviser to Martin Hamilton-Smith as Liberal leader and as a minister in the Weatherill Cabinet, as well as Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.

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News whose printing causes fits – Pakistani journalists find ways to get their stories out | Asia




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Heshy Tischler Arrested For Part In Jewish Journalist’s Assault


Heshy Tischler Arrested For Part In Jewish Journalist’s Assault

Jacob Kornbluh was assaulted while covering an Ultra-Orthodox protest in Brooklyn last week.

Heshy Tischler From YouTube

Political wannabe Heshy Tischler was arrested and charged for his part in the assault of orthodox Jewish journalist Jacob Kornbluh last week. Kornbluh was attacked by fellow Jews while covering a protest against New York’s Covid-19 shutdown.

The NYPD stated: “The New York City Police Department Warrant Squad has taken Harold “Heshy” Tischler into custody. He will be charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with an assault of a journalist that took place on October 7, 2020 in Brooklyn.”

While most of the Orthodox Jewish community leaders accepted the necessity of the shutdowns as a life saving measure, many Hasidim saw it as a limitation of their freedom of religion and took to the streets in protest.

When Tischler, a candidate for New York City Council, saw Mr. Kornbluh at a protest he called on protesters to accost the reporter. (Read our full coverage of that event here.)

Kornbluh later said, “I was standing there observing the scene on the sidelines, standing next to some families. I didn’t draw any attention, I was just looking at my phone observing the scene when Heshy Tischler recognized me, and directed a crowd to come towards me.”

Cell phone footage showed Heshy Tischler complaining to the police officers who arrested him that he had agreed to surrender himself to authorities on Monday morning. Tischler said, “You’re coming to arrest me now. I told you they were going to trick me. I called. I even spoke to the chief. They tricked me. They’re telling everybody that I was supposed to be arrested tomorrow.”

Tischler is calling himself a political prisoner and accusing New York City officials of keeping him in jail for as long as possible. He said, “Keeping me here for the night and delayed my processing of the paperwork by the mayor and DA. Political stunt. Will not stop fighting for you.”

There is already a new hashtag on Twitter “#FreeHeshy.”

Hasidim were filmed demonstrating in the streets shouting, “No Heshy, no peace!”

Unfortunately, there are mobs now gathering in the middle of the night outside of Jacob Kornbluh’s home. Journalist Elad Nehorai tweeted that, “A mob is forming, instigated by Heshy Tischler (from before he was arrested) and his supporters, outside of @jacobkornbluh ’s home. Jacob was the victim of assault by this man’s mob, which is why Tischler is in jail.”

“I’m very very worried for Jacob,” Nehorai added.

He is right. This is sick. Watch the video of these people which was posted on Twitter:

This might be sad if it were not so dangerous. This is why populist political figures are a threat to democracy.

Heshy Tischler’s lawyer Sara Shulevitz called this a politically motivated arrest. She told the New York Post, “He is not guilty and this is a politically motivated arrest and the truth will come out.”

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler was happy with the arrest. He tweeted, “Grateful to @NYPDnews @NYCMayor & @BrooklynDA for their decisive action to ensure accountability in this case. Violence perpetrated against journalists, or anyone, must not be tolerated in any community.”


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The Aussie journalists making a splash in the US election cycle


Australian journalists are capitalising on the chaos of the US election cycle. Who’s making the biggest splash?

Sharri Markson interviewing Steve Bannon (Image: Twitter)

Who says Australia doesn’t punch above its weight? While we’ve not been able to claim the most influential Australian-born media figure as one of our own since 1985, US election season has seen a number of Australian journos make their mark on the international stage.

Sharri Markson

Markson first started ingratiating herself with Trump and his media surrogates with a “bombshell” report in The Daily Telegraph on apparent “Chinese negligence” around COVID-19. Based, apparently, on a single source, it alleged that China destroyed evidence relating to the virus at Wuhan research facilities. This got her quoted by national security experts and interviewed on Fox News back in May.

Now she’s returning to US audiences via a Sky News interview with ethno-nationalist and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, currently on bail for fraud and money laundering charges. The interview concerns the “sketchy” Hunter Biden piece that ran earlier this month, thanks in part to fellow Aussie tabloid veteran Col “piss in the sink” Allan. More on him in a moment.

Keep reading about the Australian journalists making waves overseas… for better or worse.

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Jamal Khashoggi: Journalist’s fiancee sues Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over his killing | World News


The fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi is suing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over his “brutal execution”.

Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish national, filed the lawsuit in Washington DC on Tuesday, accusing the Saudi leader of the “brutal and brazen crime” of killing her fiancée after “weeks of planning”.

Ms Cengiz had been planning to marry Mr Khashoggi when he disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

She was waiting outside for him, but he never emerged and officials later ruled he died as a result of a “rogue operation”.

Image:
The lawsuit has been brought by Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee

Last month, five people were sentenced to 20 years in prison over Mr Khashoggi’s death, but they escaped the death penalty and Mr Bin Salman was not implicated in any way.

Three others were sentenced to lesser jail terms. None of the eight convicted have been identified.

Turkish intelligence officials say the operation was too big for the Saudi leader not to have known about it.

More from Jamal Khashoggi

Ms Cengiz said in a statement on Tuesday: “Jamal believed anything was possible in America and I place my trust in the American civil justice system to obtain a measure of justice and accountability.”

The Saudi-born journalist founded a human rights organisation called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) soon before he died.

He was living in exile in the US and had written articles for the Washington Post criticising the Saudi government.

The lawsuit claims that those responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s death “saw his actions in the United States as an existential threat”.

“Defendants resolved to put an end to Mr Khashoggi’s efforts by any means necessary,” it adds.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian President during his arrival at the presidential palace in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Image:
A trial last month saw five people jailed over Mr Khashoggi’s death, but no reference to Mohammed Bin Salman was made

Turkish officials claim that 15 Saudis were waiting inside the consulate in Turkey, where Mr Khashoggi had travelled to pick up documents for his upcoming wedding.

Saudi Arabia deny he was murdered, but his body is believed to have been dismembered and removed from the building.

Intelligence officials had the consulate bugged and recordings appeared to capture Mr Khashoggi’s last words, which were: “Don’t cover my mouth. I have asthma, don’t do it.”



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Gladys Berejiklian goes head-to-head with journalists over secret boyfriend


Gladys Berejiklian pleaded her innocence on Tuesday when she was bombarded with questions by fired-up journalists after it emerged she secretly dated a disgraced former MP who is facing a corruption investigation. 

The New South Wales premier, 50, had a ‘close personal relationship’ with former Wagga Wagga MP and father-of-two Daryl Maguire, 61, from 2015 to August 2020.

She managed to keep it secret from her family, friends and the public until a corruption inquiry on Monday heard phone calls in which he called her ‘babe’ and she called him her ‘numero uno’ – Spanish for number one.

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured today) sparred with journalists on Tuesday afternoon after her secret relationship with a disgraced former MP who is facing a corruption investigation was revealed

The New South Wales premier, 50, had a 'close personal relationship' with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together), 61, from 2015 to August 2020

The New South Wales premier, 50, had a ‘close personal relationship’ with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together), 61, from 2015 to August 2020

Mr Maguire, who resigned from parliament in 2018 and recently divorced his long-estranged ex-wife Maureen, is accused of trying to use his position as an MP to gain money by brokering property deals.

Labor has accused Ms Berejiklian of turning a blind eye to corruption but the premier has insisted that she was not aware of any wrongdoing and has refused to resign.

She was bombarded with questions from journalists at a presser on Tuesday afternoon but maintained that she had done nothing wrong. 

‘I will not tolerate, never have, and never will, any improper conduct by any MP,’ she said after being asked if she knew about any corruption. 

In one recorded phone call played at the inquiry run by corruption body ICAC, Mr Maguire allegedly said he would make money from a property deal at Badgerys Creek in western Sydney.  

When Mr Maguire suggested that deal was close to being done Ms Berejiklian told him: ‘I don’t need to know about that bit.’  

Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell suggested the premier knew Mr Maguire was up to something.

‘Premier he told you on the call,’ he said. 

Ms Berejiklian replied: ‘I was absolutely not aware, which is why I didn’t report anything.

Ms Berejiklian (pictured) managed to keep her relationship secret from her family, friends and the public until a corruption inquiry on Monday heard phone calls

Ms Berejiklian (pictured) managed to keep her relationship secret from her family, friends and the public until a corruption inquiry on Monday heard phone calls

The premier was bombarded with questions about her relationship on Tuesday afternoon

The premier was bombarded with questions about her relationship on Tuesday afternoon

‘The matters before the ICAC involving Mr Maguire are subject to those investigations. I stress again I did nothing wrong. If I had, I would be the first to put my hand up.

‘Mr Maguire approached a number of people in government, a number of public servants. 

‘He was rigorous in his attempts and his attempts amounted to nothing. His attempts amounted to nothing.

‘This person had been in parliament for 15 years. And unfortunately sometimes people are able to get away with things without a lot of people realising.’ 

The premier said she would in ‘no way’ describe Mr Maguire as a spouse and refused to say when their romance ended.

‘It is a very subjective and personal thing as to when you think something changed from a friendship to a close personal relationship… I was as open as I could be for someone who is very private,’ she said.  

On Monday night Ms Berejiklian insisted she has ‘done nothing wrong’ and has not been compromised by the relationship. 

She said it was her understanding that Mr Maguire was separated from his wife when they started their romance. 

On Monday night Ms Berejiklian (pictured on Tuesday) insisted she has 'done nothing wrong' and has not been compromised by the relationship

On Monday night Ms Berejiklian (pictured on Tuesday) insisted she has ‘done nothing wrong’ and has not been compromised by the relationship

The premier's secret relationship was revealed on Monday morning when tapped phone calls between her Mr Maguire (pictured together) were played at a corruption inquiry

The premier’s secret relationship was revealed on Monday morning when tapped phone calls between her Mr Maguire (pictured together) were played at a corruption inquiry 

Ms Berejiklian said she was not aware of Mr Maguire’s alleged misconduct when they were dating.

‘I assumed he was doing the right thing. I had my trust in him, and obviously I know now that that trust was misplaced, and I accept that human failing on my part, and I accept it wholeheartedly,’ she said.

‘I had no reason at the time to imagine that he was doing anything wrong, because I trusted him, and I assumed that, if there was any interests to be declared, that he did that.’

The premier said she effectively ended the romance when she sacked Mr Maguire from the Liberal Party before he resigned from parliament.

‘The dynamics changed substantially and I was there to support him as a close friend,’ she said. 

Ms Berejiklian said she kept the relationship secret from all her family and friends because it was not ‘of sufficient status’ and she was not sure if it had a future.

Gladys Berejiklian departs after giving evidence at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday

Gladys Berejiklian departs after giving evidence at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted she shared a private relationship with disgraced former colleague Daryl Maguire while he was in office. Secretly recorded phone conversations the pair had have been played at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (pictured)

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted she shared a private relationship with disgraced former colleague Daryl Maguire while he was in office. Secretly recorded phone conversations the pair had have been played at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (pictured)

She described herself as a ‘very private’ person and said the exposure of the relationship was a ‘personal nightmare’. 

‘I can’t tell you what it’s done to me personally. It’s been devastating, and I’ve had to bear this on top of everything else,’ she said referring to her leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opposition leader Jodi McKay described Ms Berejiklian as a fraud and said she must resign.

Ms Berejiklian was backed by her colleagues including Health Minister Brad Hazzard who called her ‘the best premier in Australia.’  

On Monday morning she was asked at the inquiry what she meant when she referred to Mr Maguire as ‘numero uno’.

Ms Berejiklian said: ‘I think what I would have meant there is that in my personal life I placed importance on how I felt about him.’ 

During the calls, Mr Maguire made comments such as ‘they are sucking people’s d***s’ and ‘they can get f**ked’, but the onetime Girl Guide often simply replied to his remarks with ‘Mmm’.  

In other private correspondence the two called each other ‘hawkiss’, an Armenian term of endearment. 

One call between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire played to the Independent Commission Against Corruption took place before a trip he planned making to China.

Mr Maguire was concerned about looming job losses at a company which was based outside his electorate of Wagga Wagga.

‘I stuffed up’: Gladys Berejiklian’s statement after secret relationship

I have always made sure the public interest is first and foremost paramount in every single thing that I do. 

The integrity of the role I have – the office that I hold – is the greatest privilege of my life. And whilst I have made this mistake in my personal life, I intend to serve the people of New South Wales to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve always done.

I’ve sacrificed my life to public office, and I’m proud of that. The position I hold is a privileged one. It is an honour to serve the people of the state. And I look forward to maintaining my focus to keep everybody safe, to keep jobs going during a very difficult time for the state. 

But I want to state at the outset that, had I known then what I know now, clearly I would not have made those personal decisions that I did. I trusted someone that I’d known for a long time, and I feel really, really let down. I trusted him for a long time. We were colleagues for 15 years. 

And I’m not going to take away from the fact that I made a mistake in my personal life, but I have to say that there is huge separation between a personal life and public office. 

And I can’t stress enough that, every day that I’ve been in this job, I have held myself accountable to the highest standards, and I’ve held my colleagues to the highest standards. 

And I say to all the colleagues, all the public servants, all the people that I’ve worked with – they know me, they know who I am, many of you standing here know me, know who I am, and I will continue to put the people of this state first and foremost in all of my activities. 

Ms Berejiklian said she had a 'personal attachment' to Mr Maguire and their relationship - which began in 2015 - had been kept under wraps as she was a 'very private person'. Mr Maguire is pictured outside ICAC on July 13, 2018

Ms Berejiklian said she had a ‘personal attachment’ to Mr Maguire and their relationship – which began in 2015 – had been kept under wraps as she was a ‘very private person’. Mr Maguire is pictured outside ICAC on July 13, 2018

What is the Maguire ICAC inquiry about?

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether the former MP for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire, engaged in conduct that breached public trust by using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself or entities close to him including the company G8wayInternational.

He was forced to quit the Berejiklian government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.

Ms Berejiklian can be heard telling Mr Maguire her then chief-of-staff Sarah Cruickshank had concerns about his travel.

‘All right babe, what do you think?’ Mr Maguire says.

‘I just got home, did Sarah ring you from my office?’ Ms Berejiklian replies.

‘No, why?’ he says.

Ms Berejiklian: ‘She sent me a text, when she has to ring a member of parliament she lets me know.’

‘They seem to think it’s in your electorate. I didn’t say anything, It’s none of my business, I’m just letting you know.’

Mr Maguire goes on to explain why he wants to go to China.

‘I will [unintelligible]… these bureaucrats don’t care… they’re shaking hands, they are sucking people’s d***s and they are turning up to everything and they do nothing,’ he says.

Mr Maguire had proposed going on a trade delegation to China where he would discuss a dairy in southern NSW but did not make the trip after a direction from Ms Cruickshank. 

One phone call between the pair was supposedly so ‘offensive’ that a live stream of the hearing was paused when it was played for the first time. 

Another phone call was played in a private session after counsel assisting Scott Robertson said it raised ‘questions as to the privacy of the two people involved in the conversation… that’s the safest course.’ 

Ms Berejiklian said she had a ‘personal attachment’ to Mr Maguire and their relationship – which began in 2015 – had been kept under wraps as she was a ‘very private person’. 

One phone call was played in a private ICAC session after counsel assisting Scott Robertson said it raised 'questions as to the privacy of the two people involved in the conversation...' Ms Berijiklian is pictured with Mr Maguire (right) and former premier Barry O'Farrell

One phone call was played in a private ICAC session after counsel assisting Scott Robertson said it raised ‘questions as to the privacy of the two people involved in the conversation…’ Ms Berijiklian is pictured with Mr Maguire (right) and former premier Barry O’Farrell

‘She won’t survive this’: What the commentators and pollies said

Radio host Ray Hadley: ‘I don’t think, for a whole range of reasons, that Gladys Berejkilian can survive this.’

‘Given this relationship predated his divorce and separation, and given that she’s now admitted had he retired from politics in 2017 she would have made public the relationship.

Greens MP David Shoebridge: ‘It’s hard to see how the Premier can survive a day in Parliament this week given the bombshells being dropped in ICAC about her relationship with the… Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.’

Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell: ‘When they call a premier you know they’ve got something. I actually think I that there’s a good chance Gladys Berejiklian will have to resign over this.’ 

NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay says Ms Berejiklian must resign, and if she does not, Labor will move a motion of no confidence in parliament.

‘If you thought you knew Gladys Berejiklian, think again,’ Ms McKay told reporters.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres have publicly backed Ms Berejiklian.

‘Gladys Berejiklian has led the state through the last six months in its most testing period of time, she’s got my full support,’ Mr Ayres told reporters.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance it wasn’t for him to comment on personal relationships.

‘I mean, for goodness sake. Let’s just call a spade a spade. This is a human being who has worked her socks off for this state and deserves enormous regard and respect, and will continue to do so, and that’s the important thing for the people of NSW,’ Mr Constance said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was ‘surprised’ by the revelations.

‘These are very new revelations that obviously came as some news to me,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Queensland.

‘I have worked well with the NSW premier over many years, but that is a matter for her and an ongoing inquiry.’ 

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers leader Robert Borsak told 2GB radio the news ‘flabbergasted’ him.

‘It certainly was not going around the halls of Macquarie Street, that’s for sure,’ Mr Borsak said.

‘I think she needs to take time out and she should stand herself down until we see the final wash-up of this all.’ 

In 2017 the pair spoke about their future shared plans, including making their relationship public if Mr Maguire resigned before the 2019 state election. 

Ms Berejiklian admitted that over the course of their relationship Mr Maguire frequently spoke of his finances and was ‘obsessed’ with them.

In one phone call, Mr Maguire says: ‘So I think what I’ll do is, if they give me a cheque for my tax, I think it’s better taken off my mortgage. I think what I’ll do is I’ll whack it into shares.’ 

Ms Berejiklian: ‘You told me that before.’

Mr Maguire was forced to quit the Berejiklian government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers. 

Ms Berejiklian said on Monday she had a ‘close personal relationship’ with Mr Maguire and the pair continued to communicate until less than a month ago.

She also admitted Mr Maguire had told her about some of his business interests and she presumed the former MP had appropriately disclosed them.

Mr Maguire is accused of using his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International, a company Mr Maguire allegedly ‘effectively controlled’.

He last spoke to Ms Berejiklian on September 13 – less than a month ago – and she had ceased communication only after agreeing to attend the ICAC inquiry.

Ms Berejiklian denied distancing herself from specific details on Mr Maguire’s affairs in an attempt at self-preservation.

‘I would never, ever, ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility that I had to disclose any wrongdoing that I saw, or any activity that I thought was not in keeping with what a member of parliament should be doing,’ Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry.

‘I would suggest that I was either not interested or I thought what he was raising with me was fanciful. He was a big talker.

One message from 2014, before Ms Berejiklian was premier, appears to reveal Maguire telling Mr Berejiklian about how a motel had sold for $5.8 million, and how he was entitled to $5,000

One message from 2014, before Ms Berejiklian was premier, appears to reveal Maguire telling Mr Berejiklian about how a motel had sold for $5.8 million, and how he was entitled to $5,000 

‘A lot of the time, I would have ignored a lot of what he said as fanciful and information that I didn’t care to be involved in or interested in.’

The premier also said she did not take a personal interest in Mr Maguire’s finances, despite their relationship, as she was an ‘independent woman’ with her own means.

She was never concerned Mr Maguire might be attempting to use the influence of her office to promote his own business activities. 

Ms Berejiklian was dragged into the saga last week when the ICAC heard Mr Maguire gave racing heir Louise Waterhouse the premier’s email address to help her lobby for rezoning changes that would benefit a parcel of land she held.

ICAC heard Mr Maguire had suggested the premier would be able to provide a ‘tickle from up top’, but Ms Waterhouse said Ms Berejiklian never responded.

The inquiry had heard Mr Maguire looked to make about $1million if the Waterhouse land was sold to a Chinese buyer called Country Garden. 

NSW police guard a driveway at the Independent Commission Against Corruption ahead of premier Gladys Berejiklian's appearance on Monday morning

NSW police guard a driveway at the Independent Commission Against Corruption ahead of premier Gladys Berejiklian’s appearance on Monday morning

In a call played to ICAC, Mr Maguire referred to property broker William Luong who was working with him to help Ms Waterhouse with the western Sydney land sale.

‘William tells me we’ve done our deal,’ Mr Maguire says.

Ms Berejiklian replies: ‘I don’t need to know about that bit.’

Ms Berejiklian could become the third Liberal premier in NSW to be brought down by the anti-corruption body her side of politics created.

Nick Greiner became its first victim in 1992 – just four years after he established the ICAC in a bid to uncover Labor scandals during Neville Wran’s decade in power.

While the Supreme Court later cleared him of scandalously offering a government job to former education minister Terry Meterell, the damage was done and the late John Fahey replaced him as premier.

Little more than two decades later, in 2014, Barry O’Farrell resigned over an undeclared $3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage, bottled in the year of his birth – 1959.

He had received the gift in March 2011 in the week he won a landslide election victory that ended 16 years of Labor rule, following a series of scandals in Kristina Keneally’s government.

‘She’s a fraud’: Labor leader calls for Gladys to resign over her ‘poor judgement’ 

Statement by Jodi McKay, leader of the NSW Opposition 

If you thought you knew Gladys Berejiklian then think again. This Premier is a fraud and today she has been unmasked. 

Until one month ago, Gladys Berejiklian was still in contact with Daryl Maguire. 

Daryl Maguire who is disgraced by ICAC and is a person of interest by ICAC. Now, it just shows a recklessness on the leader of this state. What it shows is poor judgement from the leader of this state. 

How on earth did she think it was OK to still be in contact with the disgraced MP and still be in a relationship with him? 

The second issue involves the wheeling and dealing which she was privy to. 

Now, it is quite obvious from the telephone intercepts that were played today, intercept after intercept, and the questions that were asked of her, and it is quite obvious that she was privy to the wheelings and dealings of Daryl Maguire, a disgraced member of this parliament. 

She heard what Daryl Maguire was telling her. And his wheeling and dealing, the dodgy deals that Daryl Maguire was doing went to the heart, the very heart, to the very top of this government with the Premier involved. 

Now, when she went to the election in 2019 did she disclose her relationship with Daryl Maguire? 

Did she tell any of her colleagues that she was in a relationship with Daryl Maguire when that shocking evidence was first revealed at ICAC back in 2017? She did not.

Gladys Berejiklian has no choice but to resign. She must resign, the citizens of New South Wales believe she must resign, and I know that all of you believe you must resign so she cannot possibly stay as the Premier of this state, given the extraordinary evidence.  

I think her political judgement has been poor. Her behaviour has been reckless. She’s shown very poor judgement.

From why she kept up a secret relationship with a dodgy MP to how much she knew about his business dealings: The many questions left hanging after Gladys Berejiklian’s excruciating day at anti-corruption hearing 

By Stephen Gibbs for Daily Mail Australia 

Gladys Berejiklian spent five gruelling hours in the Independent Commission Against Corruption witness box but her testimony still left plenty of unanswered questions.

For those with little or no interest in state politics a starting point might be to ask what the principled New South Wales premier was doing in a relationship with such a dodgy MP.

Why did Ms Berejiklian maintain that relationship for two years after she forced Daryl Maguire to resign when he admitted at an earlier ICAC inquiry to seeking payment from a property developer?  

And how on earth did a woman whose movements and communications are watched so closely keep the whole thing secret for more than five years?

The ICAC is less interested in those questions than it is in what Ms Berejiklian knew about Mr Maguire’s business interests outside politics and whether he had any undue influence over her. 

Gladys Berejiklian spent five gruelling hours in the Independent Commission Against Corruption witness box but her testimony still left plenty of unanswered questions. She is pictured at a press conference after her ICAC appearance on Monday

Gladys Berejiklian spent five gruelling hours in the Independent Commission Against Corruption witness box but her testimony still left plenty of unanswered questions. She is pictured at a press conference after her ICAC appearance on Monday 

Why did Ms Berejiklian maintain her relationship with MP Daryl Maguire after she forced him to resign when he admitted at an earlier ICAC inquiry to seeking payment from a property developer? The former couple is pictured together

Why did Ms Berejiklian maintain her relationship with MP Daryl Maguire after she forced him to resign when he admitted at an earlier ICAC inquiry to seeking payment from a property developer? The former couple is pictured together

So far there is no evidence Ms Berejiklian misused her office in any way but there are concerns about her judgement and what certain passages of secretly-recorded phone conversations with Mr Maguire really mean. 

The ICAC is investigating whether Mr Maguire, the former MP for Wagga Wagga, engaged in conduct which breached public trust by using his office to improperly gain a benefit for himself.

Ms Berijiklian told the ICAC she had been in a ‘close personal relationship’ with Mr Maguire, the longtime member for Wagga Wagga, from 2015 until a few months ago and last spoke to him in September. 

She had not been interested in his financial affairs during their relationship, which she kept secret from even her closest friends and family.  

Mr Maguire was recorded talking to Ms Berejiklian about some of his business dealings but she said she assumed he would have made the proper disclosures to parliament.

There is no evidence Ms Berejiklian misused her office in any way but there are concerns about her judgement and what certain passages of secretly-recorded phone conversations with Mr Maguire really mean. She is pictured at ICAC on Monday

There is no evidence Ms Berejiklian misused her office in any way but there are concerns about her judgement and what certain passages of secretly-recorded phone conversations with Mr Maguire really mean. She is pictured at ICAC on Monday 

Opposition Leader Jodi McKay set out the reasons she has called for Ms Berejiklian to resign in a Twitter thread on Tuesday morning

Opposition Leader Jodi McKay set out the reasons she has called for Ms Berejiklian to resign in a Twitter thread on Tuesday morning 

She described him as a ‘big talker’ and said she wasn’t always listening to him. 

Ms Berejiklian also swore she would have reported any wrongdoing she suspected on Mr Maguire’s part, regardless of the nature of the pair’s relationship. 

Unanswered questions after premier’s grilling

Why did Gladys Berejiklian maintain a relationship with Daryl Maguire two years after he was forced to resign from parliament over a property deal?

Why did she tell him her office knew a business he wanted to advocate for on a proposed trip to China was outside his electorate?

Why when he tried to discuss the closing of a proposed property deal in western Sydney from which he was set to benefit did she say: ‘I don’t need to know about that bit’?

How and why did she keep her relationship with Mr Maguire secret from even her closest friends and family for more than five years? 

Many of those calling for her resignation are concentrating on the points in Ms Berijiklian’s evidence when she tells Mr Maguire she does not need to be told exactly what he is doing. 

Mr Maguire was recorded telling Ms Berejiklian about a $1.5million debt and a property deal at Badgerys Creek in western Sydney he thought was in place which would get him out of it. 

‘I’ll make enough money to pay off my debts which will be good,’ the MP told the premier. ‘Can you believe it – in one sale.’

Ms Berejiklian replied: ‘I can believe it.’

When Mr Maguire suggested that deal was close to being done Ms Berejiklian distanced herself from its detail.

‘I don’t need to know about that bit,’ she told him.  

Counsel assisting the inquest Scott Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian if she had encouraged Mr Maguire not to give her too much information about his business dealing.

‘I would suggest that I was either not interested or I thought what he was raising with me was fanciful,’ she said. 

‘A lot of the time I would have ignored or disregarded what he said as fanciful and information that I didn’t care to be involved with or interest in. 

‘But I want to make very clear – very clear that, at all times, first and foremost in my mind is my duty to the people of this state and my responsibility to the people of this state.’

In one conversation Mr Maguire told Ms Berejiklian about a trip he wanted to make to China where he would advocate for a business outside his electorate. 

'She continued to maintain a relationship with Maguire even after he was disgraced at ICAC back in 2018, and only cut off contact with him in September this year after she was called before ICAC,' Ms McKay said of Ms Berejiklian

‘She continued to maintain a relationship with Maguire even after he was disgraced at ICAC back in 2018, and only cut off contact with him in September this year after she was called before ICAC,’ Ms McKay said of Ms Berejiklian

Ms Berejiklian said her then chief-of-staff Sarah Cruickshank had concerns about those travel plans and asked if she had rung to discuss them.   

‘They seem to think it’s in your electorate,’ she told Mr Maguire. ‘I didn’t say anything, It’s none of my business, I’m just letting you know.’

Ms Berejiklian, a stickler for detail and proper process, denied she had mentioned the relevant business was outside the boundaries of Mr Maguire’s electorate ‘in jest’.

‘No, no, no,’ she told the inquiry. ‘Absolutely not. My best recollection of that would be you better tell them what this is about because I’m not going to interfere in it.’

Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry that as premier she did not have time to pay attention to information which did not concern her role.

Many of those calling for her resignation are concentrating on the points in Ms Berijiklian's evidence when she tells Mr Maguire she does not need to be told exactly what he is doing. Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire are pictured together

Many of those calling for her resignation are concentrating on the points in Ms Berijiklian’s evidence when she tells Mr Maguire she does not need to be told exactly what he is doing. Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire are pictured together

‘… With all due respect, holding the position I do, I’m extremely busy and I would not have wanted to be bored or be given information I didn’t need, because my assumption was that he was doing everything properly,’ she said.  

As for why Ms Berejiklian maintained her ‘association’ with Mr Maguire after he resigned from parliament, it was out of concern for his wellbeing.

‘He was in a very sad state… I felt I should check on his welfare,’ she said.   

Ms Berejiklian, an intensely private person, had her own questions about her long, secret relationship with Mr Maguire.

I do not know to this date the truthfulness about how he felt about me,’ she said.



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Australia says embassy officials did not obstruct Chinese investigation into journalists Bill Birtles and Mike Smith


Australia has rejected suggestions its diplomats obstructed Chinese legal investigations by sheltering two journalists in diplomatic compounds after state security officers demanded interviews with them.

The ABC’s Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s Mike Smith were bundled out of China earlier this week, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade holding grave fears for their safety.

Officers from China’s Ministry of State Security appeared at Birtles’ apartment in Beijing and Smith’s home in Shanghai, declaring they were banned from leaving the country and demanding they submit to questioning.

Despite Australian and Chinese officials coming to an agreement that saw the two give interviews in exchange for the travel bans being revoked, China’s Foreign Ministry is now questioning the conduct of Australian diplomats.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian described the decision to allow Birtles and Smith to seek refuge in Australia’s embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shanghai as “blatant obstruction and interference in China’s normal law enforcement.”

He said it went far beyond usual consular assistance offered to people who have potentially run foul of the law.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham rejected the accusations.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says Australian diplomats acted appropriately.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

“Our officials acted appropriately.

“They ensured the safety of the two Australians involved, they resolved the matter diplomatically through discussions with Chinese authorities, which did provide those Chinese authorities with the opportunity to conduct those interviews but also guaranteed the safety and the ability to depart China for those two individuals.”

Birtles and Smith both say officers questioned them about Australian broadcaster Cheng Lei, who worked for state media outlet CGTN and has been detained for allegedly “endangering” China’s national security.

Senator Birmingham conceded there would be speculation as to whether China’s actions against Birtles and Smith were a tit-for-tat response to moves by Australian officials to expel Chinese academics from Australia.

But he refused to draw the connection.

“These are obviously matters we wish to see handled sensitively, appropriately, and ultimately in a way that enables the two countries to ensure that we can cooperate and work together in the areas of mutual benefit, and in a mutually respectful way.”

One of the academics whose visa was cancelled on the advice of Australia’s domestic spy agency ASIO has described the situation as “mind-bogglingly melodramatic” and “incredulously irrational” in a piece on state media outlet The Global Times.

Chen Hong described Australian authorities as intimidating anyone who spoke positively about China, with “the marked aim to hush them into submissive silence.”

As with the other accusations levelled at the Federal Government, Senator Birmingham denied such suggestions.

“Our Government takes matters of potential foreign interference seriously, and we will continue to act in ways to deter any acts of foreign interference, but we do so transparently and … in conjunction with Australian law,” he said.

“The individual decisions really are matters for the relevant agencies, in terms of the way in which they conduct their operations.”



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China says questioning of Australian journalists rushed home was part of ‘normal’ law enforcement


China’s foreign ministry says police were adhering to “normal enforcement of the law” when they questioned two Australian journalists who were rushed out of the country over safety concerns. 

The final two Australian correspondents working in China were evacuated overnight after police demanded interviews from them, in a situation described as “regrettable and disturbing”.

Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) were blocked from leaving the country until they answered questions about detained Australian television anchor Cheng Lei, the AFR reported on Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters authorities had strictly adhered to the law during their investigation.

“If foreign journalists observe laws and report according to law, there’s no need to worry,” he said. 

The incident comes amid growing tensions between Australia and China, and as China refuses to renew the press cards of several journalists working for US media companies.

The saga saw Chinese state security officers visit the homes of both Australian journalists last week, before they sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds for several days.

Australian diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow both men to leave the country after they agreed to be interviewed.

They touched down in Sydney on Tuesday morning.

Mr Smith on Tuesday told the AFR that it was “great to be back home safely after a difficult five days”.

“The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now,” he said.

ABC journalist Bill Birtles and Australian Financial Review journalist Michael Smith.

ABC/Twitter

Mr Birtles told the ABC it had been a whirlwind “and not a particularly good experience”.

“It’s extraordinary, I think it’s unprecedented,” he said.

“It felt very, very political, I felt like a diplomatic tussle in a broader Australia – China relationship more than anything specific related to that case.”

AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury and editor Paul Bailey said the targeting of two journalists who were going about their normal duties was “both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interests of a co-operative relationship between Australia and China”.

According to the ABC, Australian diplomats warned Mr Birtles that he should leave China last week, prompting the ABC to organise flights for last Thursday.

But seven police officers arrived at his apartment the night before he was due to leave and told him he was banned from leaving the country.

Mr Birtles contacted the Australian embassy and stayed in the Beijing diplomatic compound for the next week before he was interviewed by Chinese authorities and allowed to leave the country. 

“Having gone through the interview or interrogation … I believe the episode was more one of harassment of the remaining Australian journalists, rather than a genuine effort to try and get anything useful for that case,” he told the ABC.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Tuesday confirmed the pair received consular support to assist their return home.

“Our embassy has worked hard in the past few days to make sure we could support safely the two journalists in question and we will continue to do that and work with key Chinese authorities on these issues,” Ms Payne told reporters.

Minister Payne said her department had been in touch with the ABC and the AFR following the detention of Ms Cheng last week.

“That had raised concerns for Australia … we briefed them and they make their own decisions, in relation to those matters,” she said.

“It is disappointing we will not have representatives of Australian media organisations on the ground in China.

“I hope that can be revised in a timely way.”

Ms Payne added the current travel advice for China – which warns Australians may be at risk of arbitrary detention – had not changed.

‘This is the new China’

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the incident follows a trend of “appalling” treatment of foreign journalists by China over the past year. 

“Any journalist in China is at risk of this type of treatment … we shouldn’t have been surprised,” he told reporters. 

“If I was an Australian journalist working in China right now, I would be very concerned that there is going to be a knock on my door.”

He also said the situation was symptomatic of further strained relations between China and Australia since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is the new China we are dealing with – it is the China of warrior diplomacy that’s being aggressive to every country around the world,” he said. 

Cheng Lei, Anchor, CGTN, at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal in 2019

Cheng Lei, Anchor, CGTN, at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal in 2019

Getty

On Tuesday, China ended its silence on Ms Cheng’s detention, saying the anchor had been detained on “national security grounds”. 

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said authorities took “compulsory measures” against her on suspicion “of criminal activity endangering China’s national security”.

The Australian government was first informed of Ms Cheng’s detention on 14 August and had a virtual consular visit with the 45-year-old on 17 August. 

With additional reporting from AAP, AFP and Reuters.





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‘Intimidating and unnecessary’: Australian journalists arrive home after being rushed out of China


The final two Australian correspondents working in China have been rushed out of the country after police demanded interviews from them, in a situation described as “regrettable and disturbing”.

Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review were blocked from leaving the country until they answered questions about detained Australian television anchor Cheng Lei, the AFR reported on Tuesday.

The incident comes amid growing tensions between Australia and China, and as China refuses to renew the press cards of several journalists wording for US media companies.

The saga saw Chinese state security officers visit the homes of both Australian journalists last week, before they sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds for several days.

Australian diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow both men to leave the country after they agreed to be interviewed.

They touched down in Sydney on Tuesday morning.

Mr Smith on Tuesday told the AFR that it was “great to be back home safely after a difficult five days”.

“The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now,” he said.

Mr Birtles told the ABC it had been a whirlwind “and not a particularly good experience”.

“It’s extraordinary, I think it’s unprecedented,” he said.

“It felt very, very political, I felt like a diplomatic tussle in a broader Australian – China relationship more than anything specific related to that case.”

AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury and editor Paul Bailey said the targeting of two journalists who were going about their normal duties was “both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interests of a co-operative relationship between Australia and China”.

According to the ABC, Australian diplomats warned Mr Birtles that he should leave China last week, prompting the ABC to organise flights for last Thursday.

But seven police officers arrived at his apartment the night before he was due to leave and told him he was banned from leaving the country.

Mr Birtles contacted the Australian embassy and stayed in the Beijing diplomatic compound for the next week before he was interviewed by Chinese authorities and allowed to leave the country. 

“Having gone through the interview or interrogation … I believe the episode was more one of harassment of the remaining Australian journalists, rather than a genuine effort to try and get anything useful for that case,” he told the ABC.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Tuesday confirmed the pair received consular support to assist their return home.

“Our embassy has worked hard in the past few days to make sure we could support safely the two journalists in question and we will continue to do that and work with key Chinese authorities on these issues,” Ms Payne told reporters.

The Foreign Minister said the department had been in touch with the ABC and AFR following the detention of Ms Cheng last week.

“That had raised concerns for Australia … we briefed them and they make their own decisions, in relation to those matters,” she said.

“It is disappointing we will not have representatives of Australian media organisations on the ground in China.”

“I hope that can be revised in a timely way.”

The Foreign Minister added the current travel advice for China – which warns that Australians may be at risk of arbitrary detention – had not changed.

‘This is the new China’

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the incident follows a trend of “appalling” treatment of foreign journalists by China over the past year. 

“Any journalist in China is at risk of this type of treatment … we shouldn’t have been surprised,” he told reporters. 

“If I was an Australian journalist working in China right now I would be very concerned that there is going to be a knock on my door.”

He also said the situation was symptomatic of further strained relations between China and Australia since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is the new China we are dealing with – it is the China of warrior diplomacy that’s being aggressive to every country around the world,” he said. 

Cheng Lei, Anchor, CGTN, at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal in 2019

Getty

China’s foreign ministry last week declined to explain why Ms Cheng, a prominent journalist in China, had been detained for more than two weeks without charge.

The Australian government was first informed of Ms Cheng’s detention on 14 August and had a virtual consular visit with the 45-year-old on 17 August. 

With additional reporting from AAP and AFP.

 



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Last two journalists working for Australian media leave China



The last two journalists working for Australian media in China have left the country after police demanded interviews with them, the Australian government and Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Tuesday.

ABC’s Bill Birtles and The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith landed in Sydney after flying from Shanghai on Monday night, ABC reported.

Both had sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds in recent days.

Chinese police arrived at Birtles’ doorstep last week, demanded he submit to questioning and told him he was banned from leaving the country, the ABC reported.

Australian and Chinese officials negotiated for the travel ban to be lifted if Birtles spoke to police.

The journalists left after Australia revealed last week that Australian citizen Cheng Lei, business news anchor for CGTN, China’s English-language state media channel, had been detained.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed that her government had provided consular support to the two journalists to assist their return to Australia.

“Our embassy in Beijing and Consulate-General in Shanghai engaged with Chinese government authorities to ensure their wellbeing and return to Australia,” she said in a statement.

Australia’s travel warning of the risk of arbitrary detention in China “remains appropriate and unchanged,” she added.

Birtles told reporters at Sydney airport that his departure was a “whirlwind and … not a particularly good experience”.

“It’s very disappointing to have to leave under those circumstances and it’s a relief to be back in a country with genuine rule of law,” Birtles said.



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