News in 5: Father's final moment with son before death; actor 'saw Geoffrey Rush cup breast'; Nauru kids will never settle in Australia.

-With AAP

1. Motor Neurone Disease struck doctor shares his final moments with son.

A father who battled Motor Neurone Disease for seven years shared a heartbreaking farewell to his son just hours before he passed away.

FightMND campaigner Dr Ian Davis, 40, was diagnosed when he was 33 and has dedicated his time to raising awareness about the disease.

As his family gathered around his bedside before his life support was turned off, Dr Davis posted a final message to Facebook.

“Today I saw farewell,” he wrote. “Thank you everyone for all the support, love, and compassion over the years during my fight. It has been some ride.”

He urged his supporters to continue the fight against the disease by donating to FightMND.

He shared a photo of his final moment with his young son Archer and asked people to send Archer an email, telling him about his father.

“Please tell my boy I love him and I’m so proud to be his dad,” he wrote.

Founded in 2014, FightMND was established with the purpose of finding effective treatments and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.

The horrible and debilitating disease gradually takes away the patient’s use of their arms and legs, their ability to eat and swallow, their speech and ultimately their ability to breathe.

FightMND chairman Bill Guest told the Herald Sun Dr Davis’ contribution to Motor Neurone Disease research will leave a lasting legacy.

He said Dr Davis’ tireless work and commitment to finding a cure has impacted and inspired sufferers around the world.

“Among his many achievements was the creation of the inaugural Australasian Motor Neurone Disease Symposium in March 2018, attracting over 400 delegates from around the world, who all assembled with the joint intent to create a world free from MND,” Guest said.

“Without Ian Davis’ vision, FightMND would not have been founded and we would not have been able to progress as far and as quickly as we have in medical research for MND.”

Dr Davis died on Thursday.

2. Actor ‘saw Geoffrey Rush cup breast’, court hears.


An actor has told court he saw Geoffrey Rush make a “boob-squeezing gesture” over Eryn Jean Norvill as she lay on the floor during a rehearsal for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear.

Mark Leonard Winter also saw the star cup Norvill’s breast for about five seconds during a scene in which her character had died, the Federal Court in Sydney heard on Thursday.

Winter was in the witness box as Rush sues Daily Telegraph publisher Nationwide News and journalist Jonathon Moran for defamation over articles last year which claimed he behaved inappropriately toward a co-star, later revealed to be Norvill.

Rush, 67, denies the claims and argues the newspaper portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator.

Nationwide News is pleading a defence of truth after Norvill – who didn’t speak with the journalist for the articles – agreed in July to give evidence.

Winter, who played Edgar in the 2015-16 production, said he had a vague recollection of Rush doing a Three Stooges-like skit over Norvill and making a “jokey gesture … a boob-squeezing gesture” during rehearsal.

“I know that people laughed … I was talking to somebody at the time so I sort of tuned in late,” he said.

Winter, 35, also told the court that during a performance he saw “Geoffrey’s hand cupping around the bottom of EJ’s breast, which was something that I hadn’t seen before on stage”.

The touch was long enough for Winter to have “a series of thoughts that took me outside the action of the play,” and he estimated it would have lasted about five seconds.


Winter said he recalled Rush cupped Norvill’s left breast, whereas Norvill in her earlier evidence said she’d been touched on her right breast.

When Rush’s lawyer, Bruce McClintock SC, put it to Winter that audience members must have seen the alleged breast cupping, he said: “I can’t speak for the audience, I can only speak for myself.”

Winter agreed he was friends with Norvill and spoke with her lawyers in preparing his evidence.

He denied Mr McClintock’s suggestions that neither the alleged breast cupping or “boob-squeezing” gesture actually happened.

“I can say unequivocally that his hand touched her breast,” he said.

Veteran actors Helen Buday and Robyn Nevin, who were also in King Lear, have both testified they didn’t see Rush make lewd gestures in Norvill’s direction or comments about her body during rehearsals.

Winter agreed “to a point” that neither actor had problems speaking out during the production, saying “in general, that is their essence”.

He agreed he’d told Rush’s solicitor the Oscar winner had led the company well and taken on his role with great enthusiasm.

“I would say he was an exemplary company leader,” Winter said.

When asked if he had sufficient respect for Rush, Winter said: “Of course.”

“I mean, there’s also a tendency in this to paint people as black and white … people aren’t just black and white, and Geoffrey Rush is a respected figure and a friend,” he said.

Later, Rush’s Hollywood agent, Fred Specktor, said the actor had been “damaged as a human being by this garbage in the newspaper” and he was concerned about his client’s ability to work again.

The judge-alone trial continues.

3. Salim Mehajer’s offending has ‘escalated’ in jail.


Salim Mehajer has committed nine offences behind bars since his last bail application in August including assaulting a prison officer and disobeying direction, a NSW court has heard.

The jailed former Auburn Council deputy mayor made another release bid before Justice David Davies in the Supreme Court on Thursday, pending a District Court appeal over electoral fraud offences.

This may be heard in 2019.

“If the application is not granted … he will have served just about the whole of his sentence before the appeal comes up,” said his barrister, Michael Finnane QC.

Mehajer was jailed in June for 21 months, to be released after 11 months, after a magistrate found him guilty of 77 charges related to a joint criminal enterprise with his sister aimed at influencing the 2012 council vote.

Mr Finnane tendered a letter from Mehajer’s brother-in-law, GP Dr Khaled Osman, saying he’s prepared to treat the 32-year-old if he’s bailed and assist access to treatment for diagnosed bipolar disorder.

The barrister is asking for Mehajer to be granted bail so “exploration” can be made into when his disorder developed and to get his business affairs, including bankruptcy, in order.

But crown prosecutor Jennifer Single rebutted this, saying Dr Osman’s letter had only appeared when “needed for a bail application” and it does not indicate “that it’s actually help that has been asked for” by Mehajer.

“Justice Health records indicate no requests for mental health assistance,” Ms Single said.

She said Mehajer assaulted a prison officer in September, disobeyed direction and reoffended three days later.

A 56-day penalty was imposed by the Cooma Correctional Centre governor – the highest that can be given before elevating the matter to court – including deprivation of visits and yard time.

“Those nine offences, which have obviously escalated in seriousness, occurred after Mr Mehajer had been told by Justice (Robert Allan) Hulme that his bail was not being allowed because he had a disregard of the laws of this state,” she said.


Ms Single said his “exceptionally concerning” offending shows he can’t even behave within strict jail confines.

Mehajer’s extensive criminal history was presented to court, including a taxi driver assault in April 2017, but Mr Finnane said “it looks a lot worse than it really is” and his convictions were “relatively few”.

Justice Davies has reserved his decision until next week.

4. Queensland calls for summer strawberry support.

Queenslanders are being urged to eat strawberries over summer, following a series of incidents where needles were hidden in the fruit.

State Agriculture Minister Mark Furner will officially launch the summer season in Stanthorpe on Friday, with Queensland producers set to deliver up to 30,000 tonnes or 60 million punnets of the fruit this season.

Mr Furner says the response from the public to the crisis has been heartening, after the government announced $1 million to help the industry recover.

“The sabotage of the strawberry industry in September was devastating for strawberry growers who put their heart and soul in to producing a safe and delicious product,” Mr Furner said

“Now we need consumers across Queensland, indeed across Australia, to back our strawberry growers by enjoying Queensland strawberries every chance they get.”

The Queensland government has previously revealed more than half the $1 million will be spent on an advertising campaign, with $250,000 allocated for safeguarding supply chain integrity.

$150,000 will be given to the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and Growcom to allocate to producers affected by the crisis.

The federal government has also allocated $1 million to the industry, after needles were found in strawberries in other states.

The perpetrators are yet to be found, with the Commonwealth rushing laws through parliament to see those responsible face up to 15 years behind bars.

5. Nauru kids will never settle in Australia.


As sick asylum seeker children are quietly evacuated from Nauru, both major parties have confirmed any other families who try to enter Australia by boat will be sent to offshore detention.

All asylum seeker children will be taken from Nauru by the end of this year but never allowed to settle permanently in Australia.

A number of families have already been transferred off the Pacific island and are reportedly being housed in Adelaide.

But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton insists none of the children will ever call Australia home, even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

“That is the case and our policy hasn’t changed,” Mr Dutton told Sky News on Thursday.

“We’ve said very clearly that we don’t want boats to restart; people are not going to settle here permanently.”

It is understood 38 children of asylum seekers remain on the island.

Once medical support has been provided in Australia, non-refugees will be made to go back to their country of origin.

Refugees will be sent to the United States or resettled in other countries, Mr Dutton said.

A future Labor government would also block the asylum seekers from ever permanently settling in Australia.

“We support offshore processing and regional resettlement and that these people should be resettled,” opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann told ABC radio.

“Labor supports third country resettlement arrangements and we ask the government to consider the New Zealand offer.”


Repeatedly asked whether children would be sent to Nauru in the future, Mr Neumann would only restate Labor’s support for offshore processing and third-country resettlement.

Mr Dutton says there is increased “chatter” among people smugglers being intercepted by authorities and now is not the right time to be sending refugees to New Zealand because it will entice other asylum seekers.

Human Rights Law Centre advocacy director Daniel Webb plans to launch legal challenges to keep the children in Australia once they arrive but says the government is finding ways to get them to return.

Mr Dutton says people who pose a security risk will not be allowed into the Australian community, even if their child is being treated.

6. Fire ban for Sydney as temperatures soar.

Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong are facing total fire bans amid forecast hot temperatures and gusty winds.

The NSW Rural Fire Service predicts severe fire danger for the Illawarra region and very high danger across much of the remainder of the state on Friday.

Total fire bans will be in place for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions while Sydney is forecast to reach a top of 37C on Friday with morning northwesterly winds up to 40 km/h.