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After 11 months behind bars for electoral fraud, Salim Mehajer could walk free today, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. After 11 months behind bars for electoral fraud, Salim Mehajer could walk free today. 

Disgraced Sydney businessman Salim Mehajer could be just hours from walking from a NSW prison after 11 months behind bars for electoral fraud.

The former Auburn deputy mayor, who shot to infamy after his garish wedding, bizarre media appearances and frequent brushes with the law, is scheduled to be released from Cooma Correctional Centre on Tuesday.

Mehajar who once requested to stand at an intern for an interview on national television to declare his desire to be prime minister, was found guilty in April 2018 of being part of a 2012 electoral fraud plot that helped put him on Auburn City Council.

He was jailed in June but the conclusion of his 11-month stint in prison on Tuesday won’t mark the end of his legal woes.

He’s fighting allegations he staged a 2017 crash which saw his Mercedes AMG collide with another vehicle just before he was meant to appear in court over a taxi driver assault.

The 32-year-old was also charged with fresh charges on Friday relating to driving issues in 2012 to 2013, including four counts of making a false declaration for material benefit and four counts of dealing in identification information. Police allege he falsely nominated other people to take the fall for speeding tickets.

He is due to face those matters before Cooma Local Court in July.

2. Labor contender Anthony Albanese says he would be a different leader to Bill Shorten. 


Anthony Albanese believes he would be a different Labor leader to Bill Shorten because they’ve tread contrasting paths in life.

“I’m someone who comes from a different background,” he told ABC’s 7:30 on Monday, after mentioning he was raised by a single mother in public housing in Sydney’s inner west.

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“I have had a range of jobs. I’m an economist by training. I’ve been in parliament for more than 20 years.

“I’m very much a consensus person, and people will judge me by who I am rather than by comparison to Bill Shorten or anyone else.”

Mr Albanese is the only person to have confirmed he will contest the Labor leadership since Mr Shorten resigned on Saturday after his party’s election loss.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek will not try to fill the top job, despite receiving support from across the party.

“Now is not my time,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“At this point, I cannot reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership.”

Labor national president Wayne Swan paid tribute to Ms Plibersek, but declined to say who should run.

“What we have to have is a clear contest and a contest of ideas and offerings from candidates in our ballot,” Mr Swan told ABC TV.

There is speculation Mr Swan’s former adviser and now Labor MP Jim Chalmers, who hails from the right, is weighing up his options.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, also from the Labor right, is also considering whether he will run.

Labor’s national executive committee met on Monday to lay out the framework for the leadership ballot.

The full Labor executive, comprising senior MPs and key party officials, will meet on Wednesday.

The search for the next leader is expected to take about one month.

Rank and file members will first cast their votes, followed by the federal Labor caucus, before the results are averaged out and a winner is crowned.

Mr Albanese, who came second in the last leadership ballot in 2013, believes Labor needs to listen to people in the outer suburbs and the regions to understand why the party lost the election.

“We have not sold the message well enough, I don’t think, that we are interested in jobs and economic growth as the priority, as well as the distribution of wealth in our society.”

Opposition frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon believes the party has drifted too far to the left.

“We certainly have to get back to the centre and we have to reconnect to our working class base,” he told ABC Radio National.

Doug Cameron, a leading figure in the Labor left who retired from the Senate at the election, disagrees.

“This is not the time to panic and move to the ‘centre’ as a proxy for abandoning progressive policies and capitulating once again to neoliberalism,” he tweeted.

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“There was no Morrison miracle, only a scare campaign prosecuted by the billionaires who control the media and the mining industries.”

3. Sweden files request for the arrest of Julian Assange over rape claim.

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If granted, the court order would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain.

The Swedish prosecutor heading an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed a request with a local court for him to be detained in absentia.

If granted, the court order would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

Sweden reopened the rape investigation last week. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 after Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange, who denies the accusation, was arrested in London last month after spending seven years inside the embassy.

"I request the District Court to detain Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected for rape," Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said in a statement on Monday.

She said she would issue a European arrest warrant for Assange to be surrendered to Sweden if the court decided to detain him.

Sweden's decision to reopen the rape investigation casts doubt on where Assange may eventually end up, with US authorities already seeking his extradition over conspiracy charges relating to one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information.

A lawyer representing Assange in Sweden said he would tell the District Court it could not investigate the prosecutor's request until he had conferred with his client and learned whether or not he wished to oppose a detention order.

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"Since he is in prison in England, it has so far not been possible even to speak to him by telephone," Per Samuelson told Reuters.

Assange, an Australian national, took refuge in the embassy after fighting unsuccessfully through the British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The British courts will have to rule on the Swedish and US extradition requests, with interior minister Sajid Javid having the final say on which one takes precedence.

"The outcome of this process is impossible to predict," Persson said. Citing information from UK authorities, she said Assange would serve 25 weeks of his UK sentence before he could be released.

A British judge has given the US government a deadline of June 12 to outline its case against Assange.

4. New drink-driving regime begins in NSW.

Anyone caught drink or drug-driving in NSW will immediately lose their licence for three months under a tough new penalty regime.

First-time low-range drink-drivers from Monday will be slapped with an on the spot three-month licence suspension and ordered to pay a $561 fine.

Drivers found with drugs in their system will face the same sanction if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis.

Previously, only those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher copped an immediate licence suspension.

"For far too long, too many people who have been caught drink-driving, or driving with drugs in their system, have been able to go get themselves a good lawyer, head off to court and get off without even a slap on the wrist," NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told reporters on Monday.

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"This is about re-enforcing and supporting the work that police are doing on the roads."

The NSW change mirrors laws introduced to Victoria in April 2018.

When asked about the level of public awareness of the new laws, Mr Khoury said the NRMA ran the first drink driving education campaign in the 1980s "and we're still here talking about it".

"People shouldn't have to wait for a change in the rules to not get behind the wheel when you're drunk, it shouldn't come down to the government having to introduce tougher penalties," he said.

NSW Police, when announcing the new regime earlier in May, said the drink-driving limit had been 0.05 for almost four decades and drivers had "no more excuses".

"Make some decisions when you're drinking about not driving, make some decisions about not taking drugs and driving," Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said at the time.

Some 68 people died in alcohol-related crashes in NSW in 2018 while preliminary results suggest another 70 died in crashes where one or more drivers had illicit drugs in their system.

5. Israel Folau responds to torn-up Rugby Australia contract.

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Israel Folau. Image: Getty.

Israel Folau's faith remains strong - just not in Rugby Australia - who appear to be in the crosshairs for legal action by the Wallabies star.

Folau said he was keeping his legal options open on Monday after after opting not to appeal the decision to tear up his multi-million dollar Rugby Australia contract.

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RA announced on Monday it would terminate the Wallabies fullback's contract after the 72-hour deadline passed to appeal the sacking decision handed down by a three-person panel following a code of conduct hearing.

"My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings," said Folau in a statement.

"I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process.

"The messages of support from fans, players, former rugby administrators and the public have been humbling.

"I believe I still have a lot of rugby left in me and the potential impact of Rugby Australia's decision on my reputation and my career is substantial.

"Ultimately, I need to do what is best for my family, my teammates and the fans, so I am considering all potential avenues open to me."

RA refused to comment on Folau's statement when contacted on Monday.

It has been widely speculated that Folau would take the case to court.

He had been given until Monday afternoon to appeal his high-level code of conduct breach and sanction over his religiously-motivated but controversial social media posts.

"As Folau has not notified the panel of his intention to appeal, the code of conduct process has now formally concluded," RA said on Monday.

"With the code of conduct matter complete, Folau's employment contract will be terminated."

Last Friday the three-person panel found Folau's contract should be terminated after his Instagram posts, including one proclaiming hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".

That came after Folau had been warned against making such posts before signing his new contract last year. He'd previously posted that hell awaited homosexuals unless they repented.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said at the time the decision would have ramifications across the sporting world.

"This is a decision that will change the landscape for sport across Australia and perhaps internationally," she said.

"It will be landmark, it will be important, and it is a big decision.

"He is a very important player in our game and he has been for a long period of time and we wanted to make sure we took the time to get it right."

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