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Police called to protest at Melbourne hotel

Families of Israeli hostages were approached by pro-Palestinian protestors while attempting to enter their hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Visiting Australia to meet with leaders including Premier Jacinta Allen about the situation in Gaza families were reportedly blocked from entering their Dockland’s accommodation.

Pro-Palestinian protestors block the entrance to a Melbourne hotel hosting families of Israeli hostages.

No one was injured during the incident and no arrests were made.

Victoria Police said they responded to the protest activity at about 10pm.

“It is understood approximately 20 people walked into a hotel lobby on Spencer Street with flags,” they said.

“The group were quickly moved on by police.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy said the visitors had been made to feel unsafe by the demonstrators.

“Despite this event, the delegation will continue their Australian tour and share their plea for support for their family members who remain hostages to Hamas terrorists in tunnels under Gaza,” the spokesperson said.

Ambassador Amir Maimon had expressed deep disappointment at the feeling of insecurity experienced by the members of the Israeli delegation, the spokesperson said.

Parliament to resume for final sitting fortnight ahead of break

Parliament will resume today as the Albanese government comes under increasing pressure to take a stronger line on Gaza with NSW party members preparing to meet cabinet ministers in Canberra to voice concerns and urge a ceasefire.

Stephen Lawrence, a public law barrister and former Dubbo mayor elected to the NSW upper house this year, used a late-night parliamentary adjournment debate to criticise “propaganda” portraying Israel as “a paragon of human rights and democracy”.

The last PM who turned around their fortunes during a first-term slump was John Howard.Credit: Dionne Gain

The government’s primary vote fell from 37 to 35 per cent in the Resolve Political Monitor in this masthead earlier this month.

Columnist Shaun Carney has asked whether prime ministers get a second chance, suggesting Anthony Albanese and his 103 caucus colleagues should be contemplating the question during their looming summer break.

Read the full opinion piece from Carney here.

Brittany Higgins returns to the witness box today

During her first full day of testimony yesterday, Brittany Higgins gave an emotional account of her alleged 2019 rape by Bruce Lehrmann, which she says occurred on the couch in the office of her former boss, Senator Linda Reynolds.

Brittany Higgins leaves the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday afternoon.Credit: James Brickwood

Our senior reporter Harriet Alexander was observing and had this to say:

The first time Brittany Higgins’s throat caught, she was recalling the drive from the nightclub 88mph to Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2019. She had been told to share a ride home with her senior colleague Bruce Lehrmann because they both lived in the same direction.

But they were not going home. They were not headed in the same direction at all.

The night would end in the ministerial suite of their boss, Senator Linda Reynolds, where Higgins would later allege that Lehrmann sexually assaulted her. He is currently suing Network Ten and its journalist Lisa Wilkinson for airing those claims, which he has always strenuously denied.

As Higgins gave evidence for the defence on Wednesday, the counsel for Network Ten unspooled her memories of the night from their starchy white beginnings to their tattered rag-tail end. Fuzzy recollections gave way to blank periods. She was at the pub. Cut to the nightclub. She recalled a shot. She remembered him telling her to “just be quiet” as they entered Parliament House, and sitting for a while on a ledge overlooking the prime minister’s courtyard.

Next thing she knew he was lying on top of her, pinning down one of her legs with his own.”

The trial will continue at 10.15am, when Higgins is expected to continue her evidence. We will bring you all the updates, as well as share the link to watch the trial live online.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for joining us today.

It’s Thursday, November 30. I’m Alex Crowe, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage of today’s news developments this morning.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • COP28 gets underway today amid revelations that host, the United Arab Emirates, planned to discuss gas deals ahead of UN climate talks.
  • Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to extend the Gaza truce were overshadowed at the last minute overnight by an unconfirmed claim by Hamas that a family of Israeli hostages, including a 10-month-old baby, had been killed.
  • Brittany Higgins will take the stand again today in her former colleague Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case. She gave evidence for the first time this week, telling the Federal Court she went public with the rape allegation because she did not want to be “complicit” in a cover-up.
  • In Victoria, MPs were repeatedly warned of the risks of reappointing Auditor-General Andrew Greaves, with a dossier of allegations from former staff sent to the parliamentary committee charged with approving the selection.
  • In NSW, large parts of Sydney’s inner-west, east and north shore will be exempt from plans to allow two-storey apartments or townhouses because of heritage rules; however, the government has vowed to crack down on councils who opportunistically seek new heritage listings.
  • And in the United States, the Republican Party are facing a finance problem, according to 10 people familiar with the matter.
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