"We’re going to ruin you." Bill Spedding describes how the William Tyrrell investigation impacted his life, & more in News in 5.

— With AAP.

1. “We’re going to ruin you.” Bill Spedding describes how the William Tyrrell investigation impacted his life.

Bill Spedding went to fix a washing machine at William Tyrrell’s foster grandmother’s home three days before the three-year-old vanished in September 2014.

Little did he know he’d find himself the highest-profile person of interest in the abduction case, subjected to a six-hour grilling by police and calls of “we’re going to ruin you,” by investigators.

A Four Corners investigation last night interviewed the innocent man, who became a target of the police operation in 2015 when Gary Jubelin took over the case.

Spedding and his wife were sitting on their back verandah having a coffee and feeding magpies when police cars swarmed. They’d been given a tip off that Spedding was involved in allegations 30 years prior related to abusing children. Those allegations were dismissed at the time. They also found a Spiderman toy in his truck, William was wearing a Spider man suit when he disappeared.

“Gary Jubelin said to me ‘Mr Nice-Washing-Machine-Man, we’re going to ruin you’,” Spedding told the ABC.

“And at another point of time he (said), ‘Whenever they talk about William Tyrrell, your name’s going to come up as well. And when they’re talking about you, William Tyrrell’s name is going to come up’,” he said.

Spedding said the grilling he was given by police was “really intense.”

frank abbott william tyrrell
The last photo taken of William Tyrrell. Image: AAP.

"If a fella was guilty, I could well see why someone would break. It was intense,” he told the ABC. When he tried to put forward evidence of his alibi (he was out purchasing coffee with his wife on the day William disappeared) he was told "I'm tired of your bullshit and lies."

A few months later, they arrested him and jailed him over the historic allegations from 1987. But he was eventually acquitted.

Four years after that ordeal, Spedding says the damage done can never be repaired and his life as a result has been "shattered".

"Describing the feeling is difficult, but it's sad," he explained.

“We just don’t know, when someone’s going to pop out of the woodwork, and grab me around the throat again, and say, ‘You’re Bill Spedding. What’d you do with William?’,” said Spedding.

The washing repairman is suing NSW Police over how he was investigated and is also alleging malicious prosecution of the historical child abuse charges.

2. Drought-stricken farmers call out government despite heavy rainfall.


Drought-stricken farmers have welcomed heavy rainfall over the weekend, but say it doesn't let the Morrison government off the hook.

Up to 100 millimetres of rain fell across parts of central west and northwest NSW, while Mirrool Creek in the Riverina is running for the first time in two years.

Scott Morrison said the downpour brought "respite" but the prime minister admitted the government was still figuring out its next steps to help farmers.

"I know this isn't breaking the drought but I tell you, it is respite rain ... which will give some real encouragement and some peace of mind for people right across our drought-affected areas of the country," he told reporters in Thailand.

Inverell livestock producer and chairman of Regional Australia Institute Mal Peters was part of a federal committee which travelled Australia in 2008 assessing the impact of drought.

Mr Peters' property didn't get any rain over the weekend but said he was happy for those who did, before calling on the government for more assistance.

"The problem is the federal government hasn't come to the party, the assistance this time around has been bloody near non-existent in terms of direct help for farmers," Mr Peters said.

"We've got 140 years of rainfall records and this has surpassed anything in those records. The problem is the follow-on because last year was exactly the same.

"The farmers up here, the sparkle has gone out of their eyes, they really don't know where to go and are not sure what to do."

He warned the number of farmers could halve in coming years.

Mr Morrison said the government was "going through the final stages of its next set of announcements" on the drought and the plan would be announced when he returned home.

Nationals leader Michael McCormack said it will take years to recover from the drought and vowed to keep working on solutions.

"This is great. But one downpour doesn't end the drought, it doesn't solve the problem in the drought-stricken communities," he told reporters.

"It has settled the dust. It's going to top up some damns. A bit of a green sheet across those very dry areas but it's not going to solve the drought.

"The drought is going to take many months and indeed years to recover from."

Some councils are leaning on their neighbours, with Orange in NSW agreeing to send water from its reserves to the tiny neighbouring town of Molong as an emergency measure should it be needed.


3. "We're two pretty different countries." Scott Morrison meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Scott Morrison has described his meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang as honest and candid, but bristled at suggestions the talks were stern.

The prime minister sat down with Premier Li on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, after many months of diplomatic spot fires over Beijing's human rights abuses, expansionism and attempts at foreign interference.

"There's an honest acknowledgement that we're two pretty different countries," Mr Morrison told reporters in Bangkok on Monday.

"We're a liberal democracy and they're a communist party state. We're not seeking to adopt their system, and they're not seeking to adopt ours."

The two leaders acknowledged the Australia-China relationship was heavily strained and would take work from both sides to restore.

"We recognise we've got a great relationship, but we know it can be even better when we address some important issues about how we continue to engage," Mr Morrison said.

The meeting came just days after China publicly rebuked Australia's foreign minister for daring to call out its human rights record.

It has been three years since an Australian prime minister has held an official meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Morrison sidestepped questions about whether securing such a meeting would send an important signal in repairing strained Australia-China relations.

"I'm not one who is big on symbolism, I'm big on actions and the practical value of the relationship," he said.


Mr Morrison pointed out various senior ministers had visited China in recent months, with Trade Minister Simon Birmingham heading to Shanghai on Tuesday.

The prime minister signalled he raised thorny issues during the 45-minute meeting with Mr Li, including the detention in Beijing of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun.

"We deal with lots of sensitive issues in these discussions, as we did again, and that's the nature of the candid relationship that we have," he said.

"But we deal with those in private discussions."

Mr Morrison said Australia and its largest trading partner would continue to work together while understanding there would always be issues of disagreement.

"There is nothing extraordinary about that at all," he said.

Mr Morrison again rejected the argument Australia needed to choose between the United States as its closest security ally and China as its number one trading partner.

4. The 2020 NSW Australians of the Year have been announced.


* NSW Australian of the Year: Munjed Al Muderis

Professor Al Muderis was detained on Christmas Island and in several Western Australian jails after fleeing the Saddam Hussein regime on a leaking boat.

He overcame "extraordinary obstacles" to become an orthopaedic surgeon and now advocates for the human rights of others, an awards statement said.

The 47-year-old Sydney surgeon has taken a team to his former homeland of Iraq seven times, at his own expense, to help victims of the conflict he fled.


"His surgical innovations and breakthroughs are helping Australians and people throughout the world," the awards statement said.

* NSW Senior Australian of the Year: Sue Lennox

The Bellingen 67-year-old founded the award-winning social enterprise OzGREEN, which teaches young people how to take positive environmental action.

Under her leadership, OzGREEN has developed sustainability programs in 1,600 locations across Australia, India, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Pakistan.

* NSW Young Australian of the Year: Corey Tutt

Proud Kamilaroi man Mr Tutt, 27, gathers donations of science resources through his organisation, Deadly Science, and sends them to remote schools around Australia.

He has raised more than $33,000 to purchase books and equipment, and distributed more than 4,300 books and 70 telescopes.

* NSW Local Hero: Bernie Shakeshaft

Armidale's Bernie Shakeshaft founded the award-winning BackTrack Youth Works Program, which uses animal-assisted learning, agricultural skills and a residential facility to help some of Australia's most vulnerable kids.

The 52-year-old's program has the support of magistrates, police and majors and has helped decrease Armidale's youth crime rate by more than 38 per cent.

5. "We can't wait to get stuck in." Ash Barty on her plans to bring the Fed Cup trophy back to Australia.

ash barty wta finals
Image: Getty.

Forget burnout, Ashleigh Barty is pledging to complete "unfinished business" and bring the Fed Cup trophy back to Australia for the first time in 45 years.


Far from being worn out after icing her magical year with the season-ending championship in Shenzhen, Barty says donning the green and gold for Australia in this weekend's final against France remains her top priority.

"To have a Fed Cup final at home is very rare and very precious and we can't wait to get stuck in," the world No.1 told AAP before leaving China.

"After Wimbledon this year, I was chatting to my team and I said to them I wanted to target the last two weeks of the season and we've been able to do part of that here in Shenzhen and there's certainly some unfinished business.

"There's a massive week of tennis ahead.

"It's been a goal and a dream of mine to try and be in a Fed Cup final and to finish off the perfect year in the most perfect fashion playing for Australia in the green and gold is going to be remarkable."

Unbeaten in six singles and doubles rubbers in Australia's first two ties this year, Barty will again carry a twin load against France and insists she has energy to burn.

Australian captain Alicia Molik has already outlined her plans to give the spearhead and teammate Samantha Stosur light duties after both featured in the WTA Finals in China.

"No question Ash will ease into the week - she's had a pretty intense week in China with a lot of big time, big pressure matches," Molik said.

"Sam had an amazing tournament in Shenzen too, just losing to the No.1 team who won the event - (Timea) Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who of course will come and play for France against us."

Stosur, certain to again team with Barty for the potentially decisive doubles rubber on Sunday and right in the mix for the second singles spot ahead of newly eligible Australian No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic, made the semi-finals of the season-ending doubles event with Zhang Shuai.

Barty meanwhile insists she still has enough in the tank for two singles matches and the doubles.

"I know that we'll do all the right things over the coming days to make sure that my body's ready, my mind's ready," she said.

"But it's certainly not going to be a hard thing to get ready for.

"I know this is going to be a massive weekend for me personally, for Alicia, for our team and for the Australian public.

"To have a Fed Cup final at home, is very rare and very precious."

Australia have lost their past eight Fed Cup finals stretching back to the Evonne Goolagong-led triumph in 1974.