Will Pucovski won’t be ready for opening Ashes Test after being ruled out of Victoria’s clash with NSW

David Warner will have a new opening partner for the Ashes after Will Pucovski’s concussion comeback hit another hurdle.

Batting star Will Pucovski hasn’t yet returned to the nets a month after his 10th concussion and may not be available for Australia until the middle of the Ashes.

Pucovski won’t play for Victoria against NSW at the MCG in a Sheffield Shield clash starting this Friday, which is a “touch too soon” as he continues to recover from the effects of the concussion suffered on October 5 at training.

Victorian coach Chris Rogers said there was a “strong desire” to get the 23-year-old into the Test team, but everyone was taking a long-term view of Pucovski’s cricket future.

Rogers said Pucovski, who was the frontrunner to open with David Warner during the Ashes, could be ready for one of the later Tests in a “best-case scenario” as he returns to full fitness.

“He hasn’t quite recovered as well as hoped. In discussions with the medical team and the national selectors it was felt we would give him a bit more time to select him to play for Victoria,” Rogers said.

“He hasn’t started hitting the nets, I think that was the main concern. It’s really difficult just to walk into one of these games unprepared. All the people who are in these conversations understand we have an immense talent on our hands and we want him to be playing for five to 10 years, so these are the decisions we are going to make in his best interests to set him up to have a long career.

“There’s some symptoms which are just a little too close to the game.”

Pucovski trained on Wednesday and was “positive” about how his recovery was tracking.

But his playing return may not come until a yet-to-be-confirmed third Sheffield Shield game in mid-November or even a Victorian second XI game.

Rogers said that would delay any chance of him playing in the Ashes until mid-series.

“No doubt it’s a setback. I’d say now it’s unlikely he’d play in the first Test,” he said.

“Hopefully, if we play a third Shield game in mid-November and there may be a second XI game for Victoria as well, that might prepare him for one of the matches in the middle of the Ashes series. That’s the best-case scenario.

“He was very positive about how it was all tracking and pretty hopeful of playing soon, but he felt this match was a touch too early.”

Rogers said Pucovski, who hasn’t played a game since injuring his shoulder in his Test debut last January, was “frustrated” by this latest concussion and its lingering effects.

But the young star also knows he has to be fully ready when he makes a playing return.

“He hasn’t played for seven months. You have to walk straight back in the cauldron and perform against very good opposition. That would have been playing on his mind,” Rogers said.

“Of course he wants to play for Australia for a long time to come. There’s a strong desire to get him into that Australian side, he’s such a talented player.

“I think the decision is to look after him and allow him a bit more time to prepare in the right time rather than rush him to matches which are going to have a lot of intensity and scrutiny.”

Originally published as Batting gun Will Pucovski won’t be ready to play for Australia until the middle of the Ashes as he recovers from another concussion

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Cleo Smith found alive: Expert says discovery a ‘miracle’

A leading criminologist has described finding Cleo Smith alive as a ‘miracle’ before weighing in on the key that may have solved the case.

Finding missing four-year-old Cleo Smith alive was a “miracle” and “highly unusual” according to a leading criminologist.

“I had been expecting the worst,” Dr Xanthe Mallett told Sunrise just hours after Cleo was found at a home in Carnarvon in Western Australia.

“It is highly unusual to find an abducted child alive and well after so long. This is a miracle.”

Cleo went missing from a remote campsite in WA 18 days ago, sparking a wide-scale search and fears she had been abducted.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch released a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the extraordinary development.

He also revealed “phone data” helped lead police to the house where Cleo was found.

“It will become apparent when we put the puzzle together … it all led us to one place,” he told the Today show.

Cleo was found when officers dramatically broke into a locked house in Carnarvon in the early hours of the morning, he said.

Dr Mallett said she wasn’t completely surprised that there was finally a conclusion to the case that had baffled detectives for almost three weeks.

“Strategically, police seemed to be clear on where they were going,” she said.

“I am just incredibly pleased it is a positive outcome.”

She was then asked about the vehicle that was spotted leaving the carpark of the campsite just hours after Cleo was last seen by her parents.

Police said it was likely she was abducted in the dead of the night since the tent zip was opened to a height she could not have reached.

A major focus of the police investigation has a mystery vehicle that was spotted by two people.

They said it turned right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Highway, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

“It may be that car that was the key to solving this … it may have been something else,” Dr Mallett said.

“They have looked closely in the local community. We always felt this was something targeted. To me, it made no sense this was a random.

“They have looked very closely at those in the community, those who possibly know Cleo. There will be a link to Cleo and her family. Over the next day or so, will find more about what has happened.”

Search crews combed the coastline near the remote camping ground where Cleo went missing, but efforts proved futile.

Police also examined CCTV footage from businesses and homes that might have captured the car or anything else that might be relevant to the investigation.

They then moved search efforts to Cleo’s parents home, which they searched three times. Police said her parents were not suspects and the move was “standard practice”.

Officers searched the home for several hours before leaving with two evidence bags.

A 36-year-old man is now in custody and being questioned by police after Cleo was found at his home in Carnarvon.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the man had no connection to the family.

Originally published as Criminologist describes finding Cleo alive a ‘miracle’ before touching on key evidence

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T20 World Cup: Australian star set for return after England axing

An Australian all-rounder looks likely to return to Justin Langer’s starting side after he was dropped for the Aussies’ horror show against England.

Mitchell Marsh will “heavily come into consideration” for Australia’s next T20 World Cup clash against Bangladesh as assistant coach Andrew McDonald and the rest of the coaching staff plot a re-jig of the squad.

The star all-rounder was left out of the starting line-up in Australia’s crushing loss to England as Ashton Agar took his place, which McDonald explained was purely for selection purposes and nothing to do with a potential injury to Marsh.

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Agar made the most of his chance, finishing with 20 runs – the second highest total of the Australian batting order – and boasting Australia’s strongest bowling figures for the match of 1/15 off nearly three overs.

While Agar certainly made his case to retain his spot in the line-up, McDonald believes Marsh’s impressive showings in a dismal series against Bangladesh deserve to be taken into account when the coaches sit down and prepare the line-up.

“He’s (Marsh) at full fitness,” McDonald said. “He was available for selection last game.

“There was no injury concerns around Mitch; he was fully capable to play his role in the last game and wasn’t selected.

“He’ll be back on the selection table and if there is a shift back to the structure of the first two games, then it’s probably likely he’ll get the nod among those seven batters.

“He’s been a good servant over the past 12 months, had some great form lines against the West Indies and Bangladesh.

“He’ll heavily come into consideration for the next game, there’s no doubt about that.”

Across Australia’s recent T20 series against Bangladesh, Marsh averaged 31.2 with the bat in five games, which included a half-century in the third match between the two.

However, he failed to fire for Australia in its World Cup opener against South Africa, mustering up just 11 runs from third spot in the batting order.

A slight shift saw the 30-year-old drop to sixth in the order for the Aussies’ win over Sri Lanka, but his services were not required, as Justin Langer’s side won by seven wickets.

With a crucial match against Bangladesh looming, Marsh’s strong numbers against them in their T20 series could prove to be key.

Bangladesh is yet to win a game in the Super 12 stage of the World Cup, but given Australia was on the wrong side of a 4-1 series scoreline when the two sides played a T20 series in August, it would be silly to count them out.

Originally published as Mitchell Marsh set for return to starting line-up after England axing

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T20 World Cup news; Australian captain Aaron Finch on must-win game against Bangladesh

It was only two months ago Australia couldn’t score a run against Bangladesh, and now they have to beat the Tigers to stay alive at the World Cup.

Australia averaged just 102 runs an innings in a miserable 4-1 series loss to Bangladesh in August, but captain Aaron Finch is adamant his team can find the runs needed in a “must-win” showdown with the Tigers at the T20 World Cup.

Mitch Marsh, who was controversially left out of Australia’s thrashing at the hands of England on Saturday night, and Matthew Wade are, however, the only two batsman from that T20 tour who have made it to the World Cup.

Finch had to leave for knee surgery, leaving Wade to skipper the side to totals of just 108, 121, 117, 105 and finally an ugly 62 in a series played on what spinner Adam Zampa called “the worst” international pitches he has played on in Dhaka.

But through three games at the World Cup the return of Australia’s best batters hasn’t produced the big scores necessary to promote confidence of progression to the finals.

Through the opening three matches Australia just reeled in South Africa’s sub-par 119 in the opening match, then peeled off 155 in just 17 overs to beat Sri Lanka in the second before struggling to just 125 against England.

That record gives Finch’s men just one total in the top 35 at the tournament so far.

Bangladesh has five, two against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, Australia’ final opponent in the pool games. Three other big scores from the Tigers came against countries including Oman in the qualifying stages.

But Finch said there was no issues about the players “gelling”, having only come together as a team 10 days before the tournament after six months apart, and was confident their best was not far off.

“Well, it wasn’t too long ago that we were No. 1 in the world, so I still think that we’re a very good team in T20 international cricket,” he said.

“Everyone has got their own opinion, so that doesn’t really matter. What matters is results. That’s fine if you think that we’re a really ordinary side, that’s OK.

“I think we’ve got a couple of days off to refresh and recharge. The boys have been training really well and deserve a couple of days off … so recharge the batteries and then a couple of really strong days of training, and then we’ll be back into it.

“There’s a lot of experience in the group. I’m not concerned about carrying baggage into a different game against a totally different opposition.”

Australian legend Shane Warne declared that Marsh “has to play” in the next match and Steve Smith should go because he has never “nailed T20”.

“Having the player that everyone can bat around has gone – those days of T20 are gone with the big bats and the small boundaries,” Warne told Fox Sports.

“You’ve got to start bashing it. You just have to bash it and go into beast mode.”

Australia has to beat both Bangladesh and the West Indies to make the semi-finals of the tournament, a fact not lost on Finch given the impact of the loss to England.

“Oh, they’re definitely must-wins. I think the net run rate took a hammering tonight. Yeah, so we’re going to have to be at our best again,” he said.

“Bangladesh are a very, very good side and so are the West Indies, a lot of firepower in their team, a lot of experience, so yeah, absolutely. It‘s must-win from now on, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Originally published as Australia has to turn around a 4-1 series loss to Bangladesh in August to keep World Cup campaign alive

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WA Premier Mark McGowan labels Covid-19 anti-vaxxers ‘wacky, nutty and dangerous’

A Premier who has copped threats from Covid-19 anti-vaxxers has launched a spray against them, telling them to ‘act like normal, rational human beings’.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has blasted Covid-19 anti-vaxxers, labelling them “wacky, nutty and dangerous” as he urged them to “act like normal, rational human beings” and get the jab.

Mr McGowan, who has copped abuse and threats from anti-vaxxers after mandating the vaccine for certain industries, said their behaviour only served to harden the state government’s resolve.

“We’re more determined to put in place measures to get people vaccinated,” he told reporters on Sunday.

More than 1000 people gathered at Elizabeth Quay in the CBD for a protest against the Covid-19 jab on Saturday.

Asked if he was concerned about anti-vaccine sentiment growing, Mr McGowan said: “It’s concerning. I just urge these people to go and get vaccinated … the time for protesting and reading crazy conspiracy theorists online is over.”

Mr McGowan said he actually believed the campaign had recently died down despite the rally.

“But some of the material they’re spreading is extreme, misleading and frankly lies,” he said.

The Premier said they should “get on with life, like everyone else”.

“They are reading wacky theories online that are untrue,” he said.

“This rubbish that’s put out online and some of the lies and misleading information … is dangerous.

“I just urge them to stop, go and get vaccinated and just act like normal, rational human beings.”

Protesters are reportedly planning another rally on Monday in the city.

Meanwhile, the Premier announced booster shots would be available in WA from Monday, with no requirement to book an appointment.

On Thursday, the federal government announced the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations had recommended booster jabs for adults after the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the program would officially begin on November 8, but Mr McGowan said any WA adult who had received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago could go to a state clinic from Monday for their third jab.

“The medical advice is irrespective of what vaccine you had first, the booster vaccine is now the Pfizer vaccine,” Mr McGowan said.

“I just urge anyone in that position please go and get your booster vaccine and obviously as time goes by, more and more people will become eligible as they hit the six-month period from their second dose.”

On Saturday, it was announced that any travellers to WA from medium, high and extreme risk jurisdictions must be double vaccinated from November 5.

Mr McGowan said on Sunday that it would currently include people from NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

“Queensland is dropping its border shortly to NSW and Victoria, so is South Australia and Tasmania,” he said.

“We expect that they’ll get community spread of the virus, probably before Christmas.

“So that will mean that we can put in place the requirement for double dose vaccination once they get community spread of the virus, based upon health advice.

“We haven’t got the advice as yet, and we also need to take account of the lawyers’ advice, but obviously as it spreads in those states that will provide that opportunity.”

Despite the number of cases in NSW falling, Mr McGowan said he was not yet prepared to ease border restrictions.

“They’re about to open international borders without any requirement for quarantine and we just have to monitor that,” he said.

“There could be further spread of the virus, or you could have people then say, ‘I want to go to NSW and leave the country, come back into NSW and then just come home’ who are Covid-positive.

“I just want us to get through this period and get to very high levels of vaccinations before such time as we run the risk of people coming from NSW, Victoria or indeed overseas, who would spread the virus here.”

Originally published as WA Premier labels Covid-19 anti-vaxxers ‘wacky, nutty and dangerous’

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Crown settles China arrest class action for $125m ahead of trial

Crown Resorts has settled for a huge sum ahead of a class action trial over business dealings in China where staff were arrested.

Crown Resorts reached a $125m deal with shareholders after its share price dropped following revelations employees were arrested in China for promoting illegal gambling.

The arrests prompted the Australian company’s share price to plummet 14 per cent in October 2016 and sparked a class action claim led by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

“Crown’s alleged failures in our case were part of what has become one of the most serious and comprehensive breakdowns in corporate governance in Australian history,” senior associate Michael Donelly said on Friday.

The company agreed to the deal on Friday after a trial was postponed twice this week.

The lawsuit was the only way the shareholders were able to take action effective against the gambling giant, he said.

The 19 Crown employees pleaded guilty to gambling offences and were convicted in June 2017.

The lawsuit claimed the company breached the ASIC Act and aimed to establish the company engaged in “misleading or deceptive” conduct.

Lawyers for the shareholders claimed Crown knew the employees were acting illegally in China and the company engaged in counter surveillance, including code words, removing logos and misleading authorities.

Originally published as Crown agrees to settle for $125m over China arrests class action

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Socceroos; Australia will play first home game in more than two years in November.

Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup has suddenly taken on a whole new look for the Socceroos after a big announcement.

The Socceroos are finally coming home after 763 days on the road and will play their next World Cup qualifier in Sydney.

A clash with Saudi Arabia is locked in at Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta on Thursday, November 11, the first match at home for the Socceroos since taking on Nepal in Canberra in October 2019.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold had urged NSW government officials to throw open the door to fans after a last-start loss to Japan ended an 11-match winning streak.

The stadium will be at 75 per cent capacity for the game, which means up to 22,500 people will be able to cheer on Arnold’s men.

“I believe that playing in front of home fans at a beautiful stadium and on a great pitch will help us,” Arnold said.

“Fans can provide energy to players and teams, and after having been away from Australia for so long, I expect that our players will harness and use the support that will be in Western Sydney Stadium on November 11.

“Now I urge the players, together with the fans, to enjoy the moment and feed off one another’s energy as together we strive to take another positive step towards qualification for Qatar.”

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said it was a big moment for the Socceroos to come home.

“The Socceroos are an iconic Australian team and one that has always enjoyed a very close connection with the Australian public,” he said.

“Unfortunately, throughout the team’s pursuit of qualification for a fifth consecutive World Cup, they have had to play 11 of their 12 matches abroad.

“Despite the challenges which this has presented, the Socceroos have performed exceptionally well.

“We’re delighted that the team will have the opportunity to return to Australia to continue their World Cup quest in front of Australian fans.

“It will also be a chance for the Australian public to witness some exciting new national team talent, including players like Ajdin Hrustic, Martin Boyle, and Harry Souttar who have been making great contributions to the squad throughout 2021.”

“We thank the NSW government for working closely with us to bring the Socceroos home in line with their Reopening NSW road map.”

Australia will play its second match of November’s FIFA window against China on Tuesday, November 16. The details of this match are yet to be finalised.

Final home fixtures against Vietnam and Japan next January and March are also set to be played in Australia, with borders open and quarantine restrictions being eased.


FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)

Matchday 5: Australia v Saudi Arabia

Date: Thursday, November 11, 2021

Venue: Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta

Kick-off: 8:05pm AEDT

Originally published as Socceroos will play first game on home soil for more than two years against Saudi Arabia in Sydney

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WA: ‘Spy plane’ used in search for missing girl Cleo Smith

The WA police commissioner has been quizzed on suggestions a ‘spy plane’ was used during the search for missing girl Cleo Smith.

Western Australia’s police commissioner has brushed off suggestions a “spy plane” has been used in the search for suspected abduction victim Cleo Smith, as officers returned to her last known location to collect campfire ashes.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister revealed the Australian Federal Police were using “very advanced capabilities” that were “leading edge” and it has since been reported by 7 News that it involves a reconnaissance spy plane.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson was asked about it during a press conference on Thursday, with a reporter querying the use of a plane almost two weeks after Cleo vanished.

“Obviously it’s a big police operation and in any such operation of this scale we reach out to police forces, not only across Australia, but indeed across the world,” Mr Dawson said.

“The AFP will, like others, assist us with whatever they can. We will accept any opportunity to expand any capability.”

Mr Dawson said he would not go into the specifics about the AFP’s particular involvement.

“We welcome any assistance from any police force around the world,” he said.

Asked again directly if it was a “spy plane or something like that”, Mr Dawson replied: “I won’t go into specifics.”

The AFP refused to comment when NCA NewsWire asked about it.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Wednesday told federal parliament that the AFP and federal agencies were supporting the work of the WA Police Force.

“Our thoughts are with the family and I can assure them that the advanced capabilities of federal law enforcement are being deployed to aid local efforts to find Cleo,” she said.

“Australians can be certain we will continue to equip our law enforcement and intelligence agencies with the tools and resources they need to combat this very serious crime, especially crimes against children.”

Late on Wednesday, police returned to the Blowholes campground in Macleod, where it is suspected Cleo was taken from the family tent on October 16, to collect ash samples from former campfires.

Officers also spent Thursday morning in Carnarvon’s light industrial area obtaining CCTV footage from businesses.

It comes after a report from two people who said they saw a car turn right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo vanished.

Police have been seeking CCTV and dashcam footage from people since Cleo’s disappearance.

Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde landed in Carnarvon on Thursday morning.

Asked if the case could be solved, he said: “We’re really confident.”

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon have vehemently denied having any involvement in the young girl’s disappearance.

“No way – we love our daughter and want her home,” Ms Smith told Seven’s Flashpoint program this week.

“There is no way that either myself or Jake could’ve done anything to hurt our daughter.

“She’s been taken from our family, from somewhere she’s meant to feel safe.”

Police have also said the couple are not suspects, nor is Cleo’s father.

Forensic officers have searched the family home three times and collected evidence in bags.

Police said the family had been helpful throughout the investigation and understood it was routine practice.

In a new Instagram post on Thursday, Ms Smith wrote: “If you know anything please call the police! We want our baby home.”

Ms Smith also posted a missing poster, promoting the state government’s $1m reward for information.

Bounty hunters have reportedly joined the search for Cleo in a bid to secure the reward, prompting a warning from police for people to stay safe.

“I think people — whether it’s for the money or whether it’s just to do the right thing and help find Cleo — people are up there trying to find what happened,” Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch said on Wednesday.

“There’s still a lot of land up there to cover. I just ask that people don’t put themselves in any danger in doing so.”

A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $83,000.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as WA Police refuse to confirm reports a federal ‘spy plane’ has been used in the search for Cleo Smith

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Australian opener David Warner wants to open the batting with Will Pucovski when the Ashes starts in December

The race is on for Will Pucovski to get Ashes ready, and now he’s got the ultimate support to open for Australia.

Australian opener David Warner is all in on walking out to bat with Will Pucovski in the Ashes opener at the Gabba, labelling the young Victorian a “hell of a player”.

After just one Test together last summer against India, for partnerships of just six and 16, Warner declared 23-year-old Pucovski was “primed” for international cricket.

Pucovski is expected to make a playing return from a 10th concussion, suffered during training earlier in October, in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield clash with NSW at the MCG from November 5.

He should have two matches to show he’s ready for a return to the Test team, and everyone at Victoria who has watched him through the pre-season is adamant he’ll only need that much time to get into batting shape.

Warner said the selectors would have the final say, with Marcus Harris and potentially even Usman Khawaja in the discussion should Pucovski not come up. But the 35-year-old star knows who he wants to bat with.

“The selectors will pick the people who are in form, bring it down to who they think are the right two or three candidates, then make a decision,” Warner said.

“Looking back, Puck was in waiting, then he played (his one Test), then hurt his shoulder and he’s been recovering. But he’s a hell of a player, he’s primed and right for international cricket.

“If I was to make a judgment call, he’s the first person who is on the top of their list.”

Warner dismissed any issues over a combination of two left-handers if Pucovski isn’t available despite the damage veteran English fats bowler Stuart Broad did to the lefties in the 2019 Ashes.

Broad removed Warner seven times in 10 innings as the opener managed a mere 95 runs, only passing 11 once.

But Warner said things would be different in Australia.

“Australia is different when it comes to left-hand batting and the opposition,” he said.

“We know the conditions. I can’t see the ball reacting to the wicket like it did in England. In Australia you can leave a lot of balls on length, in England those length balls are hitting the stumps.

“It doesn’t worry me too much what the (opening) combination is. Whoever the selectors decide to choose, they will pick the person who is in form.”

Victorian coach Chris Rogers said as long as Pucovski looked “comfortable” when he made his batting return, he’d be ready to step back up to Test level

“The first thing you want to see is him playing well and be comfortable out in the middle, particularly playing the short ball. How many games they want to see that in, I can’t tell you that,” Rogers said.

“He can come out and get a 200 and walk into the Test team and get a 60. You know when you throw balls to him, it’s different, I think perhaps they just want to see him go out and look comfortable and them maybe they’ll be confident to pick him.

“If he went out and scored a big score, I’d definitely pick him.”

Originally published as Australian opener David Warner wants to open the batting with Will Pucovski when the Ashes starts in December

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ABC’s $184k legal blowout | Herald Sun

The ABC managing director has again been forced to defend his decision to pay the legal costs of star reporter Louise Milligan.

The ABC has been forced to defend its decision to pay legal costs for journalist Louise Milligan in a defamation case brought by backbencher Andrew Laming.

In August, Ms Milligan agreed to pay Dr Laming $79,000 plus costs for a series of tweets posted in March, which he alleged were defamatory.

Dr Laming was cleared of any criminal offence related to the allegations in April.

ABC Managing Director David Andersen told a Senate estimates committee he alone made the decision to pay the costs and the board was not consulted.

“I made that decision on the 25th of May,” Mr Anderson said on Tuesday.

“This matter did come up before the board on the ninth of June. The circumstances by which we provided an indemnity to Ms Milligan were explained.”

The managing director said the decision to pay the legal costs was made based on legal advice that the ABC could be “vicariously liable” for Ms Milligan’s tweets and the risk of being joined to proceedings.

“The potential for the agency to be joined in proceedings and the potential financial exposure to the ABC, unless we created common interest privilege to hold off those proceedings, and to be able to settle them as fast as we could,” Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson confirmed the costs for the defamation case has totalled $184,000 so far.

He indicated further costs could be possible.

On Monday evening, Australian National Audit Office officials were quizzed about their decision not to investigate the ABC for paying Ms Milligan’s legal costs in the matter.

In a letter to Senator Eric Abetz, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said he was unable to judge the appropriateness of the decision because there was no policy or precedent for it.

Mr Hehir told the estimates hearing that since there were no documents related to the decision, the ANAO could only make a decision based on the testimony of the ABC.

The lack of documentation, the auditor-general said, was not usual.

“Normally you’d have an expectation that they would document those decisions … that’s something you’d expect to see.”

Asked if the decision was appropriate, Mr Hehir said it was “hard to say without evidence one way or the other”.

“Not being able to form an opinion is a reasonably strong statement from that perspective.”

Originally published as ABC board not consulted over decision to cover journalist’s legal costs

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