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"Completely untrue." Rugby Australia says Israel Folau lied in his first TV interview since being fired, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. “Completely untrue.” Rugby Australia says Israel Folau lied in his first TV interview since being fired.

Rugby Australia has described ex-Wallaby Israel Folau’s claim they offered him money to remove his Instagram post as “completely untrue”.

Speaking to Alan Jones on Sky News on Thursday night, Folau said RA had offered him money to remove the post that was condemned as homophobic, but he declined to do so.

RA on Thursday denied offering Folau money to remove the post.

Israel Folau appeared on Sky News for his first televised interview. Post continues below video.

Video via Sky News

“Any suggestion that Rugby Australia offered Israel Folau money to remove a post made on April 10, 2019, is completely untrue,” an RA statement said.

Folau said he is hoping for an apology from Rugby Australia when he meets with officials from the body at the Fair Work Commission on Friday.

“I’m hopeful for an apology from them and admission that they were wrong,” Folau told Sky News on Thursday.

“That would be something that I would like to get.”

RA sacked Folau after taking issue with a social media post by the committed Christian in April. Folau had paraphrased a Bible passage saying “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” would go to hell unless they repented.

He has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against the body, arguing he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds.

Folau is seeking $10 million in damages from RA and wants his multimillion-dollar contract reinstated after it was pulled by the association.

He said sharing the bible and its passages was part of his duty as a Christian, but understood how people could be hurt by his posts.

“I couldn’t do that as a person that’s convicted by my faith. I couldn’t live with that,” Folau said.

“It certainly comes from a place of love and it’s nothing personal.”

Folau also insisted he has no hard feelings towards former teammates who have publicly criticised his approach and, while he doesn’t understand all of their comments, they haven’t caught him off guard.

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“All the backlash that I’ve received, it’s been no surprise. It states that in the Bible,” Folau said.

The 30-year-old also compared gay people to drug addicts: “If I had a child who was a drug addict I would still love my child without anything attached to that,” he said.

The player and RA representatives will meet at the Fair Work Commission on Friday for the next step in their legal stoush.

If they cannot reach an agreement, they will have a hearing with the Commission. There is a possibility of the case going to the Federal Court after that.

RA chief Raelene Castle released a statement on Thursday, speaking for the first time since Folau’s GoFundMe saga began last Friday.

The Quicky investigates the unravelling of Israel Folau. Post continues after audio.

“I want to make clear that Rugby Australia has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the Professional Players Code of Conduct. The panel found the breaches constituted a high level and directed Rugby Australia to terminate Israel’s contract.

“This is an employment matter and does not concern his religious beliefs or his ability to express them freely. If some of you follow Israel’s social accounts, you will have noticed he has posted religious material freely and openly over the last few years.”

Friday’s planned meeting comes as a campaign to raise funds to support Folau’s case has been “paused” after donations topped $2 million.

The Australian Christian Lobby, which set up the fundraiser on its website, said the flow of donations since it was opened on Tuesday had been overwhelming.

More than 20,000 people had donated more than $2.2 million by Thursday morning.

“Your overwhelming support means that Israel Folau has raised enough money for now,” the ACL said in a statement on its website.

“ACL, Izzy and everyone involved is humbled and grateful. We are hitting the pause button. But if the case drags on and Israel needs more support, we will reopen this campaign.”

The ACL said the fundraiser not only showed there was support for Folau but a “great movement of quiet Australians have found their voice”.

The ACL effort replaced an earlier campaign on GoFundMe that was taken down by the platform for breaching its service guidelines.

2. Urgent hunt for missing Perth man in North Korea continues.

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The family of an Australian feared detained in North Korea insist it’s unusual for him not to contact them, but have no confirmation he’s been detained by the secretive regime.

Australian officials are scrambling to find Perth man Alek Sigley, who vanished earlier this week. The federal government has expressed serious concerns for him.

The family issued a statement on Thursday, saying they hope to contact him soon.

“The situation is that Alek has not been in digital contact with friends and family since Tuesday morning, Australian time, which is unusual for him,” they said.

“Alek’s family hope to re-establish contact with him soon.”

The 29-year-old travel company boss and blogger runs tours of the reclusive state for foreign visitors.

He’d been preparing to lead a fresh tour in August, promising travellers a visit to the demilitarised zone that separates divided North and South Korea.

“Get right up to the border with South Korea, even technically cross it in one of the negotiation huts which lie between the northern and southern sides of the compound and are bisected by the border,” his company’s website says.

Australian officials have said little about the nature of his disappearance in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is in Japan for the G20 summit and said everything possible is being done to locate the Australian.

He would not say if Prime Minister Scott Morrison might seek the help of US President Donald Trump in their scheduled meeting in Japan.

“There is obviously some complications in providing consular assistance into North Korea. We work through the Swedish government in North Korea,” he told reporters.

Earlier, federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Australian was in a very serious situation.

“This particular jurisdiction, most Australians’ common sense would tell them makes this a matter of the utmost seriousness.”

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Mr Sigley has run Tongil Tours for a number of years, while also studying Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.

His family says he has lived in several Asian countries and first visited North Korea in 2012. He can speak Mandarin and Korean fluently and some Japanese.

He was careful to avoid political commentary on his social media platforms, instead focusing on what he called North Korea’s modernisation, its food and its architecture.

In a March article for The Guardian, Mr Sigley said he was the only Australian living in North Korea, and boasted that as a long-term foreigner on a student visa “I have nearly unprecedented access to Pyongyang”.

He wrote of being able to wander freely and unaccompanied throughout the city.

Two years ago, in an interview with the ABC, he said he wouldn’t be running his tours if he believed North Korea was an unsafe destination.

It’s not the first case of an Australian being detained in North Korea.

Elderly South Australian missionary John Short was deported in 2014 after being held for 13 days for trying to spread Christianity.

Mr Short later told of gruelling daily interrogations and being kept under 24-hour guard, despite repeatedly saying he was not a spy and was not working with any South Korean connections.

North Korea continues to deny engaging in torture in one of the most infamous cases of Westerners detained in the country.

American university student Otto Warmbier died in June 2017, less than a week after Pyongyang sent him home in a coma.

The 22-year-old spent 17 months in a North Korean jail after visiting the country as a tourist and was arrested for attempting to steal a propaganda poster.

An Ohio coroner found the student died from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain caused by an unknown injury.

3. “Everyone has suffered.” Former Victorian pedophile teacher jailed for 12 years.

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Victims of a depraved pedophile teacher who abused children for decades say they still suffer because of “catastrophic failures” in the education system.

Vincent Henry Reynolds, 78, admitted abusing 38 children multiple times starting from the 1960s at primary schools across north and central Victoria.

“They can never give him enough for what he’s done to us, not just me, it’s every bugger. Everyone has suffered, ” Brian Jackson said outside court on Thursday, consenting to be identified as a victim.

Mr Jackson was eight when Reynolds started abusing him and only came forward after encouragement from his brother.

“I don’t think he’s been punished enough,” Mr Jackson said.

He said the education department had “a lot to answer” for allowing Reynolds to continue teaching, despite complaints.

In the 1980s, a parent complained to the department and Reynolds voluntarily sought psychiatric treatment and took time off work, before resuming teaching.

“It is absolutely bloody stupid sending you back to the classroom because you’ll just keep on doing it,” the psychiatrist told Reynolds after learning of the decision.

He molested students while pretending to look at their homework, mark school work or while he was reading to the class.

He also targeted some children while the class was watching a film or when a child needed to change clothes.

County Court sentencing Judge Gabriele Cannon said it was clear there were systemic failures.

“It might well be said there were catastrophic failures in the education system and the justice system – clearly there were – which saw you being able to continue offending,” Judge Cannon said.

But she said ultimately it was up to Reynolds to stop offending.

Victoria’s Department of Education and Training said there had been significant reform of child safety standards since Reynolds’ offending.

“The department apologises unreservedly to former students of Vincent Reynolds for the abuse they have suffered,” a spokeswoman told AAP.

She said further comment was inappropriate because “there are a number of cases brought by survivors that are currently before the courts”.

Some of Reynolds’ victims told their parents or teachers about the abuse but were not believed or told not to make up lies.

Multiple victims spoke of “trauma and the feelings of fear, shame and humiliation” they suffered, the judge noted.

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Victims jeered as Reynolds was sentenced.

“Hope you rot in there you bastard,” one man yelled out as Reynolds was led away to prison.

The judge praised victims for their courage in coming forward about the allegations.

Mr Jackson said the process was worthwhile.

“We’ll just move forward and get on with our lives and he can just bugger off to jail.”

Reynolds was jailed for 12 years and must serve at least nine before being eligible for release on parole.

Up to 30 victims are planning to sue the Education Department.

4. People with dementia prevented from accessing euthanasia in WA under proposed laws.


People with dementia will be prevented from accessing voluntary assisted dying under proposed laws in Western Australia.

A 13-member expert panel chaired by former WA governor Malcolm McCusker delivered its final report to state parliament on Thursday, providing 31 recommendations for government to consider.

“(The report provides) compassion for those suffering and facing death and safeguards against all kinds of possibilities, the chief one of which was raised several times, which was coercion,” Mr McCusker told reporters.

The panel recommends a person over the age of 18 and ordinarily living in WA will be eligible for voluntary assisted dying if death is reasonably foreseeable within 12 months.

Mr McCusker and Health Minister Roger Cook noted that was similarly recommended in Victoria, which has legalised assisted dying but for political reasons it was reduced to six months.

Under the WA plan, a person must have decision-making capacities and make three requests, including one in writing witnessed by two people who will not benefit financially from their death.

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Two doctors will also be required to assess the person and be independently satisfied they meet the criteria.

Doctors and nurses won’t be compelled to participate but if they choose not to, must provide information to the patient to allow access elsewhere.

Mr McCusker said the primary approach would be for the person to self-administer the medication to “enforce the fact that this is a voluntary act” but they can be assisted by a practitioner if required.

The panel recommends at least 18 months between the law passing and its commencement.

The legislation should also be reviewed three years later.

Mr Cook said there were still considerations to be made about how best to implement the plan in remote areas and the role of pharmacies.

The minister acknowledged health professionals remained divided on the issue but said while it was a difficult debate it was one the community was ready for.

“This is not a choice about whether someone lives or dies … it’s about the manner of that death,” Mr Cook said.

Dying With Dignity WA president Steve Walker said the report was a significant milestone following an extremely rigorous process.

“It is clear the panel has incorporated the feedback from their consultations with key stakeholders, such as the medical community and the public, in the development of the safeguards outlined,” he said.

But AMA WA president Omar Khorshid said the fundamental weakness in the plan was only two medical practitioners were required to take a person through the process, describing it as more dangerous than Victoria’s laws.

“In Victoria, there is a permit system, which means there is some level of oversight,” he said.

“We call on the government to introduce a bill … that contains all of the safeguards of the Victorian model and perhaps a few more. The AMA believes there are some gaps in the Victorian model.”

The legislation will be introduced in the WA parliament in August and MPs will have a conscience vote.

5. South Sydney prop George Burgess faces ban over alleged eye gouge.

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South Sydney prop George Burgess is in hot water after an alleged eye gouge marred the Wests Tigers’ ugly 14-9 NRL win over the Rabbitohs on Thursday.

Burgess was put on report and will face scrutiny from the match review committee for an incident on Robbie Farah that overshadowed a piece of Michael Chee-Kam brilliance to extend the Rabbitohs’ losing streak at Bankwest Stadium.

The Englishman is facing the prospect of a lengthy ban if charged after last year copping a four-match suspension for an eye gouge on New Zealand’s Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Burgess put his fingers in the Tigers veteran’s face during a tackle and Farah got up and complained to referee Adam Gee, who placed Burgess on report early in the first half.

Souths coach Wayne Bennett said he had only seen the Burgess incident briefly but was disappointed.

“There was just no need to put himself in that position to start,” Bennett said.

“I’m not condemning him for it in that I don’t know whether his fingers actually made contact with the eye or not. The point is it was totally unwarranted anyway.”

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