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Aged care inquiry to probe governance

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The operations of two major aged care providers in Tasmania will be put under the microscope by a royal commission this week.

In a five-day public hearing beginning on Monday in Hobart, the aged care royal commission will examine Southern Cross Care and Bupa facilities in the state.

Particular focus will be placed on Southern Cross Care’s Yaraandoo Hostel, which was sanctioned in November last year, and Glenara Lakes which was issued with a notice of noncompliance in January.

The governance at Bupa’s South Hobart home, one of several of the organisation’s facilities sanctioned in 2018, will be probed later in the week.

The commission will explore the quality and safety of care given to residents and the decision making of those working at the homes.

Family members of residents, current and former staff and executive managers are among the hearing’s witnesses.

The royal commission, tasked with examining the quality of aged care in Australia, has to date received nearly 6,900 submissions.

The commission released an interim report last week which highlighted serious flaws in the sector.

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Malta businessmen Yorgen Fenech arrested on yacht over murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

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Maltese armed police arrested one of the country’s most prominent businessmen in a dramatic dawn raid on Wednesday in connection with an investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, two sources said.

Yorgen Fenech was detained after police intercepted his yacht off the Mediterranean island, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

His arrest came the day after the government said it would offer a pardon to a suspected middleman in the 2017 murder of Caruana Galizia if he provided legal binding evidence of who was behind the killing.

Yorgen Fenech of the Tumas Group was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (File photo)

Yorgen Fenech of the Tumas Group was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (File photo)

Yorgen Fenech of the Tumas Group was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (File photo)

Police aboard Yorgen Fenech's yacht "Gio" after it was intercepted on a course for Sicily by the Maltese military early Wednesday

Police aboard Yorgen Fenech's yacht "Gio" after it was intercepted on a course for Sicily by the Maltese military early Wednesday

Police aboard Yorgen Fenech’s yacht ‘Gio’ after it was intercepted on a course for Sicily by the Maltese military early Wednesday

Fenech is a director and co-owner of a business group that won a large energy concession in 2013 from the Maltese state to build a gas power station on the island.

His luxury yacht Gio left the Portomaso yacht marina, five miles (eight km) north of Valletta, shortly before dawn. Police swiftly boarded the vessel and forced it to return to port.

The arrest came shortly after Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a middleman involved in the murder case could be granted a pardon for giving evidence.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave a statement on Tuesday on developments in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave a statement on Tuesday on developments in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave a statement on Tuesday on developments in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Media gather at the Portomaso port where a yacht, which is believed to have been intercepted by Maltese police to arrest prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech

Media gather at the Portomaso port where a yacht, which is believed to have been intercepted by Maltese police to arrest prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech

Media gather at the Portomaso port where a yacht, which is believed to have been intercepted by Maltese police to arrest prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech

‘I gave a mandate to the attorney general to negotiate with the person’s lawyers to take an unprecedented step,’ said Mr Muscat.

‘If the person collaborates and the information provided is sufficient to prosecute the mastermind of this crime, they will receive a presidential pardon.’

In February 2017, eight months before she died in a car bomb, Caruana Galizia wrote in her blog about a mystery company in Dubai called 17 Black Limited, alleging it was connected to Maltese politicians, without publishing any evidence.

Maletese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb in Malta on October 16 2017 (File photo)

Maletese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb in Malta on October 16 2017 (File photo)

Maletese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb in Malta on October 16 2017 (File photo)

Yorgan Fenech, who was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia speaking at a casino in 2014 (File photo)

Yorgan Fenech, who was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia speaking at a casino in 2014 (File photo)

Yorgan Fenech, who was arrested by Maltese police on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia speaking at a casino in 2014 (File photo)

She was unable to discover who owned the company. A Reuters investigation later identified Fenech as the owner.

According to a December 2015 email, uncovered by Maltese financial regulators, secret Panama companies owned by then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, the government chief of staff, stood to receive payments from 17 Black for unspecified services.

The email said the Panama companies expected payments of up to $2 million within a year from 17 Black. The email made no reference to the gas power station and there is no evidence any money was deposited with them. 

Matthew Caruana Galizia (left) and Paul Caruana Galizia (right), the sons of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, attend a vigil outside the Maltese High Commission in London, six months after she was assasinated (File photo)

Matthew Caruana Galizia (left) and Paul Caruana Galizia (right), the sons of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, attend a vigil outside the Maltese High Commission in London, six months after she was assasinated (File photo)

Matthew Caruana Galizia (left) and Paul Caruana Galizia (right), the sons of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, attend a vigil outside the Maltese High Commission in London, six months after she was assasinated (File photo)

Schembri and Mizzi both told Reuters last October they had no knowledge of any connection between 17 Black and Fenech, or of any plan to receive payments connected to Fenech or the energy project. Fenech denied making any plans to pay any politician or any person or entity connected to them.

Including the suspected middleman, three men have already been charged over the car bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat (no relation to Joseph Muscat), have been charged with murder for triggering the devastating explosion which killed the investigative journalist. 

The men, who were arrested in December 2017, all pleaded not guilty in pre-trial proceedings. As of yet, no date has been set for their trial and no convictions brought.  

Caruana Galizia had told police she’d received threats two weeks before her death and her last blog post 24 minutes before her death read: ‘There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.’

People lay flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial during a vigil and protest on the first anniversary of the assassination of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb, outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta (File photo)

People lay flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial during a vigil and protest on the first anniversary of the assassination of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb, outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta (File photo)

People lay flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial during a vigil and protest on the first anniversary of the assassination of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb, outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta (File photo)

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Nicola Sturgeon attacks Jo Swinson over nuclear weapons stance

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Nicola Sturgeon has condemned Jo Swinson after the Liberal Democrat leader said without hesitation that she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons. 

Ms Swinson was asked the question last night and she immediately replied with a simple ‘yes’. 

The swift nature of her reply prompted anger from Ms Sturgeon as the SNP leader said it was ‘sickening’ to see the use of nuclear weapons treated like ‘some kind of virility test’ for politicians. 

Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, said she would not in any circumstances authorise such a strike, with the SNP long-committed to getting rid of the UK’s nuclear arsenal.  

The row between the two party leaders came as the Liberal Democrats and Ms Swinson prepared to publish their 2019 general election manifesto. 

The party’s blueprint for the UK will be built around its centre-piece pledge to stop Brexit. 

Jo Swinson, pictured during an interview on ITV last night, simply replied 'yes' when she was asked if she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons

Jo Swinson, pictured during an interview on ITV last night, simply replied 'yes' when she was asked if she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons

Jo Swinson, pictured during an interview on ITV last night, simply replied ‘yes’ when she was asked if she would authorise the use of nuclear weapons

Ms Swinson's response prompted anger from Nicola Sturgeon who said using the weapons should not be treated as 'some kind of virility test' for politicians

Ms Swinson's response prompted anger from Nicola Sturgeon who said using the weapons should not be treated as 'some kind of virility test' for politicians

Ms Swinson’s response prompted anger from Nicola Sturgeon who said using the weapons should not be treated as ‘some kind of virility test’ for politicians

The issue of whether party leaders would agree to the use of nuclear weapons has become a familiar question during election campaigns in recent years. 

But Ms Sturgeon objected to Ms Swinson’s seemingly flippant response when she was asked if she would push the nuclear button if she ever became prime minister. 

The SNP leader tweeted: ‘It’s sickening to hear this question asked and answered as if it’s some kind of virility test and without any context. 

‘Using nuclear weapons would mean killing millions of people. Those consequences should be made clear. (FWIW – and for that reason – my answer is “no”).’

The use of nuclear weapons is politically divisive with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn having been heavily criticised for his stance on the issue. 

He was attacked recently after he signalled he would be willing to scrap the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

He is a vocal and long-time opponent of nuclear weapons and he recently said the UK’s missiles ‘would be part’ of any future ‘nonproliferation treaty discussions’. 

Mr Corbyn’s comments were pounced on by his critics as they suggested they showed the Labour leader could not be trusted with maintaining the UK’s national security.  

MPs voted in July 2016 to renew Trident as they gave the green light to building four new replacement submarines to carry the UK’s nuclear missiles. 

Labour MPs were given a free vote on the issue and the majority backed renewal but Mr Corbyn voted against maintaining Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.  

The SNP has hinted that scrapping Trident could be a red line during any post-election talks with Labour about the prospect of propping up an administration led by Mr Corbyn. 

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry earlier this month claimed Mr Corbyn would not have sole control of the nuclear deterrent if he becomes PM and that other people would be involved in the decision-making process. 

In the past Mr Corbyn has explicitly ruled out deploying nuclear weapons, even if the UK was attacked.    

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‘What a waste of time!’ Viewers complain about ITV election debate and criticise both leaders

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Frustrated viewers have been left wondering why they bothered to tune into last night’s leader debate and accused both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of churning out soundbites and dodging tough questions.  

At the end of the ITV showdown between the Conservative and Labour rivals, social media was flooded with dismayed voters who said they learned nothing new.

What was billed as a crunch head-to-head where the two prime ministerial hopefuls would be opened up for scrutiny was instead branded a ‘complete waste of time’.

Host Julie Etchingham came under fire for shutting down substantial debate, with viewers accusing her interrupting the speakers each time they tried to develop their points.

Although a snap post-debate poll gave Mr Johnson a 51-49 edge, hundreds of Twitter users lamented the choice of Number 10 candidates they will be forced to pick between on December 12.

Frustrated viewers have been left wondering why they bothered to tune into last night's leader debate and accused both Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right) of churning out soundbites and dodging tough questions

Frustrated viewers have been left wondering why they bothered to tune into last night's leader debate and accused both Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right) of churning out soundbites and dodging tough questions

Frustrated viewers have been left wondering why they bothered to tune into last night’s leader debate and accused both Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right) of churning out soundbites and dodging tough questions

At the end of the ITV showdown between the Conservative and Labour rivals, social media was flooded with dismayed voters who said they learned nothing new

At the end of the ITV showdown between the Conservative and Labour rivals, social media was flooded with dismayed voters who said they learned nothing new

At the end of the ITV showdown between the Conservative and Labour rivals, social media was flooded with dismayed voters who said they learned nothing new

This feeling also played out among last night’s studio audience, who regularly burst into mocking laughter after both men made their arguments. 

Disgruntled viewer Daniel Schlordt summed up many people’s reaction when he tweeted: ‘Well the Leaders Debate was a pointless time-wasting exercise. 

‘Nowhere near enough scrutiny given to both sides; not enough clarity from Johnson (as always) or Corbyn and neither side made me feel like I was going to be looked after. Time for a change, I think.’

Last night was the first time a debate between just the two main party leaders was held after a court threw out an appeal by the Lib Dems and SNP, which were excluded.

But the minor parties will be buoyed by the reaction of some viewers, who poured scorn on both Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn.

Dave Arnold tweeted: ‘I tried to resist watching the Leaders Debate but I gave in. What a missed opportunity. I learned nothing new. Other party leaders would have made it more interesting.’

Ms Etchingham’s moderation of the debate divided viewers, with many praising her for imposing rigid speaking slots for both speakers, while others rounded on her for not allowing the party leaders to finish.

What was billed as a crunch head-to-head where the two prime ministerial hopefuls would be opened up for scrutiny was instead branded a 'an hour of repetitive sound bites'

What was billed as a crunch head-to-head where the two prime ministerial hopefuls would be opened up for scrutiny was instead branded a 'an hour of repetitive sound bites'

What was billed as a crunch head-to-head where the two prime ministerial hopefuls would be opened up for scrutiny was instead branded a ‘an hour of repetitive sound bites’

BBC presenter Andrew Neil – who is regarded as one of the most forensic political interviewers across the party divide – was scathing about the format.

He tweeted: ‘Every time Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn start to develop their arguments, the anchor says thank you, thank you, we need to move on.’ 

Neil’s remarks sparked an online war of words between ITV presenter Chris Ship, who leaped to the defence of his colleague.

Ship, the broadcaster’s royal editor, tweeted: ‘Because the two leaders have strict time limits for their questions and responses. 

‘And they know that. And it’s the moderator’s job to stick to those strict times. The anchor also has a name: @julieetchitv’.

Neil responded by saying: ‘Don’t patronise me. I know exactly what it is. And it is not working.’

But while many viewers were annoyed the politicians were not allowed to give long answers, many others believed that their answers lacked substance.

Some viewers also rounded on Ms Etchingham to get the two leaders to shake hands on a pledge to take the nastiness out of politics, which was dismissed as a 'gimmick'. BBC presenter Andrew Neil - who is regarded as one of the most forensic political interviewers across the party divide - was scathing about the format

Some viewers also rounded on Ms Etchingham to get the two leaders to shake hands on a pledge to take the nastiness out of politics, which was dismissed as a 'gimmick'. BBC presenter Andrew Neil - who is regarded as one of the most forensic political interviewers across the party divide - was scathing about the format

Some viewers also rounded on Ms Etchingham to get the two leaders to shake hands on a pledge to take the nastiness out of politics, which was dismissed as a ‘gimmick’. BBC presenter Andrew Neil – who is regarded as one of the most forensic political interviewers across the party divide – was scathing about the format

One user tweeted: ‘Complete waste of time. It will be remembered as one “leader” repeating a one-liner on Brexit and the other “leader” not answering a specific question on Brexit for a whole hour and the host doing an awful job all round resulting in a completely disjointed affair.’  

Snap poll finds Boris Johnson won the debate 

Boris Johnson has emerged as the TV debate’s winner on the key Brexit battleground – as the fallout from the historic showdown continues today.

After the Labour leader refused nine times to say whether he backed Leave or Remain, nearly two-thirds of viewers said the PM triumphed in the clashes over EU policy. Just 27 per cent thought Mr Corbyn came out on top.

Mr Johnson was also a long way ahead on who was more ‘prime ministerial’ – by 54 per cent to 29 per cent, according to a snap YouGov poll in the wake of the hour-long ITV special. 

He was also regarded as more ‘likeable’ and better on government spending.

However, in a warning sign for the Tories, Mr Corbyn was seen as marginally more trustworthy – by 45 per cent to 40 per cent and much more in touch with ‘ordinary people’.

He also outperformed Mr Johnson in the NHS exchanges, by 54 per cent to 38 per cent. 

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn tried to steer the debate on to their priorities, with the Prime Minister hammering out his ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan and the Labour Leader pivoting back to the NHS.

Some viewers also rounded on Ms Etchingham to get the two leaders to shake hands on a pledge to take the nastiness out of politics, which was dismissed as a ‘gimmick’.

A YouGov poll found that Mr Johnson had overwhelmingly appeared more prime ministerial during the debate, but that viewers found Mr Corbyn more trustworthy.

After their head-to-head concluded, there was a round of one-on-one sit-downs with the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage and he Greens’ Sian Berry.

A Question Time election special with the leaders is scheduled for Thursday, which will tee-up a seven-way leaders debate on November 29.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson dropped the strongest hint yet that he will skip this debate as he said it was not worthwhile sharing the stage will Nicola Sturgeon as she does not have a realistic chance of becoming prime minister.

A final Johnson-Corbyn head-to-head has been arranged on the week before polling day. 

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