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Jeffrey Epstein's first known victim says the billionaire mocked her for being "too old", & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. Jeffrey Epstein’s first known victim says the billionaire mocked her for being “too old”.

Amy McClure has spoken for the first time, telling Sun Online how she met with Jeffrey Epstein aged 21 under the impression he could help her boost her modelling career.

She explained that when she turned up, the billionaire was naked and receiving a massage at his New York address.

He dismissed the masseur and told Amy to take off her clothes so he could get a better look at her body.

“He made me feel really like shit cause he’s said, ‘how old are you?’ When I told him I was 21 that’s when he got irritated, almost angry. He said something like ‘You’re too, you’re too old. You’re getting too old for this. What are you doing?’ I don’t remember exactly what he said he was but I remember it was crushing,” Amy told the publication.

Amy says Epstein asked her to finish off his massage, which is when he flipped over, grabbed her head and pushed it down on him, before throwing her to the floor and raping her.

“I remember trying to fight him off and telling him to stop. It wasn’t prolonged,” said Amy.

The alleged crime happened in 1993 and is believed to be one of the earliest allegations. Amy explained how she was wracked with guilt for years for not alerting police.

Epstein was convicted of child sex crimes in 2008 but only served 13 months. He was arrested again in 2019 and charged with numerous sex trafficking offences, but died in prison before facing trial.

2. Queensland Indigenous activist Sam Watson has died.

A devoted family man who fought for the betterment of Indigenous Australians.

That’s how the family of Brisbane man Sam Watson are remembering the activist and community leader.

Mr Watson passed away surrounded by loved ones in the Princess Alexandra Hospital on Wednesday.

His daughter Nicole issued a statement on behalf of the family describing Mr Watson as a devoted family man.

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“He was a much cherished husband, father, brother, uncle and grandfather,” Ms Watson said.

“Sam also made loving connections with the Clay family on Palm Island, connections that remain strong today.”

Mr Watson was involved in politics from the age of 16, when he handed out how-to-vote cards for the Yes campaign in the 1967 referendum.

He was a founding member of the Brisbane Chapter of the Australian Black Panthers, and was a prominent figure at the annual Invasion Day rallies in Brisbane.

Ms Watson said her father was proud of his Indigenous heritage which led to his life-long advocacy.

“He proudly belonged to the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy,” she said.

Together with Aboriginal people throughout Queensland, Sam fought against the policies of the Bjelke-Petersen government that saw our communities subject to the oppressive controls of the former Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement.

“It is his family’s hope that the Invasion Day rallies will continue to grow each year, because we know that he will be there in spirit,” the statement read.

3. 100 new fires have sparked in 24 hours across NSW.

Almost 160 bush and grass fires are burning across NSW after about 100 fresh blazes ignited in a 24-hour period.

The NSW Rural Fire Service on Wednesday evening said 158 fires were burning in NSW with 78 uncontained. There were more than 2200 personnel in the field working to slow their progress.

The Bureau of Meteorology said thunderstorms which hit Sydney on Tuesday afternoon and the state’s northeast in the evening had produced large hailstones and damaging winds – while lightning also sparked fresh fires.

“Over the past 24 hours, around 100 new fires kicked off,” the RFS posted on Twitter at 5.30pm on Wednesday.

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One persistent blaze on Myall Creek Road at Bora Ridge, south of Casino, is currently at “watch and act” level. It has burned through more than 107,000 hectares.

Total fire bans were in place in the New England and northern slopes regions on Wednesday due to very high fire danger.

While there are no total fire bans in place for Thursday, the Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, Northern Slopes and North Western fire regions will be under “very high” fire danger rating, as will the ACT.

Sydney’s air quality is forecast to be “poor” on Thursday due to particles.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment issued a warning: “Unhealthy for sensitive people, and could cause symptoms, especially in people with heart or lung disease.”

Meanwhile, as crews continue work to contain the fires, NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott helped launch a new campaign called “Are They Triple OK?” which aims to increase support for emergency workers.

The R U OK? suicide prevention organisation will provide free resources to foster a supportive work culture for firefighters and other personnel.

“Having just spent three weeks dealing with the bushfire emergency … I can tell you the prolonged exposure to destruction, loss of life, loss of property, loss of farmland and loss of our native flora and fauna will have an effect on the mental health of our firefighters, our SES members and our other emergency services volunteers,” Mr Elliott told reporters in Sydney.

“So (the campaign) is a very important part of ensuring we have sustainability when it comes to these individuals.”

The bushfires also prompted calls from NSW Labor for the state’s auditor-general to investigate whether firefighters have the resources and support they need.

“The message I have heard from my conversations with firies across the state is that NSW needs more permanent and retained firefighters on the frontline to keep our communities safe,” opposition emergency services spokeswoman Trish Doyle said in a statement.

A teen RFS volunteer was charged this week with allegedly lighting seven fires in the Bega Valley since mid-October.

Blake William Banner, 19, allegedly lit a fire on Tuesday afternoon next to the Bega river, left the area and returned to fight the blaze with the RFS.

Banner was charged with causing that fire as well as six others since October 17. He appeared before Bega Local Court on Wednesday where he was granted conditional bail.

Building impact assessment teams from the RFS continue to investigate damage in fire grounds across NSW.

Some 663 homes have been destroyed in bushfires this season and six people have died.

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4. Victoria could fully decriminalise sex work within the next two years.

Sex work could be fully decriminalised in Victoria within two years, with “incredibly outdated” laws regulating the industry set to be reviewed.

The inquiry comes as sex workers say the current legislation is putting their safety at risk.

Reason Party MP and long-time sex worker advocate Fiona Patten has been tasked with leading the first thorough examination of the state’s sex work laws since 1985.

The six-month inquiry will examine workplace safety, stigma and criminal activity within the industry when it begins early in 2020,.

Once Ms Patten completes her inquiry and makes recommendations to the government, they will seek to introduce new legislation in 2021.

Ms Pattern believes the current laws are “incredibly outdated” and simply not “fit for purpose”.

The laws were prepared before the internet was commonplace, so they don’t recognise sex work is often advertised online or operates in an online environment.

The laws also fail to acknowledge that many people now work in the gig economy, Ms Patten said.

“It’s not about legal or illegal brothels,” she told reporters on Wednesday,

“The legislation, because it is so outdated, has made it very difficult for people to actually even comply with the law.”

Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz conceded a lot of sex workers have been “operating outside the legal framework”.

Among the matters Ms Patten will consider are massage parlours offering sex work services, the minister said.

Sex Work Law Reform Victoria, a group led by sex workers lobbying for the full decriminalisation of consensual adult sex work, says the current laws have created some safety issues.

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For instance, it is currently a crime for sex workers to describe online the services they provide, which can potentially prompt confusion or unrealistic expectations from clients.

“That creates a safety risk for the women involved, who want to provide a service in a safe and respectful manner,” spokesman Roger Sorrenti told AAP.

It’s also a crime for sex workers to talk to clients about their prices in a public place.

“When the government listens to sex workers’ voices directly, they’re likely to get the best solution,” Mr Sorrenti said.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the safety of workers was crucial.

“It’s time for us to have a look at the arrangements in place at the moment now, with a real focus on providing dignity to everyone who works in this industry, making sure people are safe,” he said.

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said there is too much “illegal sex work” happening in Victoria, but he isn’t sure decriminalisation is the answer for addressing it.

“But certainly there’s a problem that needs to be fixed and we need to examine what can be done to do that,” he told reporters.

The Northern Territory fully decriminalised sex work on Wednesday, allowing the industry to operate under all existing employment, health and safety and workers compensation laws.

5. More than 6500 same-sex couples tied the knot in 2018 comprising 5.5 per cent of all weddings in Australia.

More than 6500 same-sex couples tied the knot in 2018 comprising 5.5 per cent of all weddings in Australia, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

Gay marriage legislation cleared federal parliament in December 2017 after 61.6 per cent of participants in an Australia-wide voluntary postal survey backed the change.

A total of 6538 same-sex marriages took place across the country in 2018 out of 119,188 weddings, the ABS figures released on Wednesday reveal.

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NSW had the highest number of same-sex marriages, with 2290 couples tying the knot, while the ACT had the highest proportion, with 8.3 per cent of all weddings in the territory last year involving same-sex partners.

Liberal City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster – who married her partner Virginia Flitcroft in February 2018 – says there would have been “pent up demand” for same-sex weddings.

“We were like that – we’d been wanting to get married for many years,” Ms Forster told AAP on Wednesday.

“I’m sure there were a lot of long-term couples who would have liked to have gotten married in years preceding but weren’t able to. So once the law changed there probably was a bit of a rush.”

Over the next few years the numbers might drop slightly, Ms Forster said, but wanting to partner up is part of being human.

“Wanting to make that special relationship that human beings have … and recognise it as a committed, long-term, special relationship is part of the human condition.

“I suspect that as we go on the numbers will be pretty reflective of the broader population.”

Ms Forster says allowing same-sex couples to get married changed Australia and her relationship for the better.

“It has been a very positive thing for the country as a whole and certainly a very positive thing for me personally.

“It is a different relationship (with Ms Flitcroft) now than it was before we got married.”

Australia-wide 57.8 per cent of same-sex marriages in 2018 were female couples while 42.2 per cent were male couples, the ABS says.

Some 98.9 per cent were married by a celebrant with just 1.1 per cent married by a religious minister.

Rodney Croome, a spokesman for advocacy group just.equal, says the statistics show that “marriage equality was never an ideological crusade”.

Rather it was a “heartfelt aspiration for equal dignity and belonging that was widely-shared by LGBTI people and our families,” he said in a statement.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ACROSS AUSTRALIA IN 2018:

Australia: 6538 (5.5 per cent of all marriages)

NSW: 2290 (5.6 per cent)

Victoria: 1655 (5.5 per cent)

Queensland: 1292 (5.5 per cent)

South Australia: 387 (5.0 per cent)

Western Australia: 600 (4.9 per cent)

Tasmania: 143 (5.7 per cent)

Northern Territory: 47 (5.9 per cent)

ACT: 130 (8.3 per cent)

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