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Spill motion against NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian over abortion bill called off, & more in News in 5.

— With AAP

1. Spill motion against NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian over abortion bill called off.

On Tuesday morning, three Liberal MPs prepared to move a spill motion against NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian over the bill to decriminalise abortion.

In a joint statement issued on Monday night, state MPs Tanya Davies, Lou Amato and Matthew Mason-Cox said Berejiklian needs to be held to account for “presiding over this shameful process”.

They said their consistent requests for the premier to urgently intervene and restore proper process on the private member’s bill had been rejected. They added the lack of due process had broken trust within the Liberal party room, the wider party and many communities across NSW.

The MPs said they had been told on Monday night that four amendments they wanted for the bill had been rejected in full “or in part with vague undertakings for further discussion”.


“We have come to the conclusion that the right course of action is not to leave the Parliamentary Liberal Party but to hold the premier to account for presiding over this shameful process,” they said in a statement.

“We have also been alarmed by the premier’s continued failure to address the impasse in the legislative council which has slowly ground the government’s legislative agenda to dust.”

The bill to decriminalise abortion states women are allowed terminations up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. After 22 weeks, abortions will be allowed with the approval of two doctors, one of which must be a specialist obstetrician or gynaecologist.

NSW’s Upper house MPs were due to start considering changes to the private member’s bill on Tuesday afternoon, after some delay and a weekend of demonstrations from supporters and opponents of the draft legislation.

“It is only with new leadership that we can again move forward as a united team delivering for the people of NSW,” the Liberal MPs statement said.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro in a tweet on Monday night said “this is ridiculous”.

“Our coalition agreement is with Gladys and any move would be a dumb move,” he said.

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The news came hours after the Premier said she was “absolutely” confident of ending the week with her cabinet intact.

“We’re a government that is strong and stable and a government that gets on with the job,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Tanya Davies released a statement at 7.45am on Tuesday, saying the group received confirmation that further concessions will be forthcoming in relation to the bill, so they have decided to withdraw the spill motion.

2. The case of missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has been referred to coroner.

The case of missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has been referred to the NSW coroner, more than three months after the teenager disappeared from the popular beach town of Byron Bay.

The 18-year-old backpacker was last seen on CCTV walking through the northern seaside hamlet after leaving the Cheeky Monkey’s bar about 11pm on May 31.

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NSW Police confirmed that investigators had referred his disappearance to the coroner.

“The family wish to thank the public and the community volunteers for their ongoing support. They have requested privacy at this time,” it said in a statement on Monday.

It comes after police suspended an extensive land, air and sea search for the teenager in July.

Police began searching when they were alerted to his disappearance by staff at the Wake Up! Hostel in Byron Bay on June 6.

Hostel staff raised the alarm six days after Mr Hayez failed to return from a night out. His belongings, including his passport, were left there untouched.

His father, Laurent Hayez, flew into Australia that month and made an emotional public appeal to help find his son.

“I promised Theo’s little brother that I would bring his brother home. Please, help me keep my promise to him,” he told reporters through tears at Tweed Heads Police Station.

3. The man charged with the bashing murder of Courtney Herron to be assessed by a forensic psychiatrist.

A man charged with the bashing murder of a woman in an inner-Melbourne park is due to be assessed by a forensic psychiatrist.

Henry Richard Hammond, who is charged with killing 25-year-old Courtney Herron in May, appeared via video link during a brief committal mention in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.

His lawyer, Tim Schocker, requested the matter be adjourned until November 27 to allow time for the psychiatrist’s assessment.

“That requires some further exploration,” Mr Schocker told the court.

Magistrate Franz Holzer accepted the proposal and twice passed on his condolences to family members of Ms Herron, including her parents, who were in court.

“I again extend my sympathies,” he said.

Hammond remains in custody and appeared wearing a jacket, speaking only to confirm he understood the proceedings.

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Ms Herron was found dead by dog walkers in Royal Park at Parkville on May 25, with injuries described by police as “horrendous”.

She had been couch surfing and sleeping rough while struggling with drug and mental health issues at the time of her death.

Hammond was also homeless.

The court was told in May Hammond had a number of issues that would affect him in custody, including “a diagnosis of possible delusional disorder, possible autism spectrum disorder and historical diagnosis of ADHD”.

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4. Swooping magpie causes fatal cycle crash of elderly man.

An elderly man has died of head injuries after he was startled by a magpie and crashed his bicycle south of Sydney.

The 76-year-old was riding a pushbike on an off-road path alongside Nicholson Park at Woonona, Wollongong, on Sunday morning when witnesses report he veered off to avoid a swooping magpie.

He collided with a fence post and was thrown to the ground, and suffered serious head injuries. He was airlifted to St George Hospital in a critical condition and died in the evening.

5. Properties lost as fires rage in Top End.

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Numerous buildings, caravans and cars have been destroyed including what is believed to be a woman’s home as strong winds helped fires rage across the Top End.

Nine active fire grounds were burning around greater Darwin on Monday and most are believed to have been caused by humans either accidentally or deliberately.

There are no reports of anyone being injured but the damage to properties and livestock is not yet known.

The manager of the Lodge of Dundee holiday park west of Darwin, Geraldine Murphy, said she knew of at least two people that had lost homes nearby.

“There are a couple of people I know that have lost their homes down Barramundi Drive,” she told ABC radio.

“Another fellow was flying in today who has been away working and apparently his shed with all his welding gear is all gone too.”

Dundee is a popular weekend and fishing destination for Darwin residents, with holiday houses and caravans there.

Another man had come in to the Lodge who had been caught on the road and “put his foot down” after driving through thick smoke and surrounded by fire over the top of his car and boat, Ms Murphy said.

Bushfires NT chief fire control officer Andrew Turner said he could not yet confirm whether or not homes had been lost.

Firefighters hoped to have it mostly contained by Monday night, with a small number of property owners facing $628 fines for not having compulsory firebreaks thus hampering firefighters’ efforts to protect peoples’ homes.

“We have not had homes or houses reported as destroyed but there have been sheds affected and potentially people live in sheds,” he told AAP.

“I saw photos of a shed that was fully involved and someone pointed out that a woman lived in the back of the shed.”

The biggest threats were large fires around Dundee and Humpty Doo, about 50km to the southeast.

Both had been emergency alerts over the weekend, the highest threat level, but were downgraded to advice by Monday evening.

Investigations had not started yet into what caused the fires but they were all being treated as suspicious as there were not really any “naturally occurring fires” at this time of year, he said.

“Either somebody’s deliberately or accidentally or negligently started a fire,” he said.

NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services chief fire officer Mark Spain praised volunteer firefighters.

“The fact that no one has lost their lives and houses, it is a good job all round,” he told reporters.

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