The judge presiding over Bruce Lehrmann’s multimillion-dollar defamation case against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson will hear evidence on Thursday from a former Seven producer who alleges Lehrmann gave him thousands of Brittany Higgins’ private text messages.

Taylor Auerbach, right, is set to give evidence in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case.

Taylor Auerbach, right, is set to give evidence in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case.

Taylor Auerbach, a former senior producer on Seven’s Spotlight program, has emerged as an unlikely witness in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Ten and Wilkinson after Ten won an eleventh-hour court bid on Tuesday to reopen its case and call him to give evidence in its defence.

Federal Court Justice Michael Lee will hear from the parties about procedural matters from 9.30am, before Auerbach is expected to start giving evidence at 2.15pm.

For more on what to expect from the testimony, and to watch the court livestream, click here.

President Joe Biden is under growing pressure to limit the supply of weapons to Israel as members of his own ranks demand that the US cease being “complicit” in the murder of innocent people in Gaza.

As Biden declared he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen workers killed by Israeli forces on Monday, Democrats ramped up calls for the administration to stop sanctioning military aid to Israel unless the nation does more to protect civilian lives.

Bernie Sanders says “the United States cannot continue to be complicit in the horror that is taking place” in Gaza.

Bernie Sanders says “the United States cannot continue to be complicit in the horror that is taking place” in Gaza.Credit: AP

The most damning condemnation came from progressive Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders, who described the carnage in Gaza as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the modern history of the world” and told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Stop murdering innocent people”.

“Right now, what Israel is doing is fighting not just Hamas, but going to war against the entire Palestinian people, and this World Central Kitchen horror is just one part of what the Netanyahu war machine is doing,” Sanders told MSNBC.

“We’re talking about people who today don’t have food, don’t have water, don’t have medical supplies, don’t have fuel. It is horrible, it is inexcusable, and it’s got to end right now – and the United States cannot continue to be complicit in the horror that is taking place now.”

Read the full story from North America correspondent Farrah Tomazin here.

Health Minister Mark Butler says cost-of-living relief for small businesses and households will be front and centre in the budget.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Butler flagged that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will hold a press conference later this morning focused on cost-of-living relief.

“Cost of living is really the most significant pressure in the Australian community, as it is right around the world right now,” he said.

Health Minister Mark Butler did the media rounds this morning to promote Labor’s cost-of-living relief for small businesses and families.

Health Minister Mark Butler did the media rounds this morning to promote Labor’s cost-of-living relief for small businesses and families.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“It’s impacting households, and it’s also impacting small businesses, which is the audience that the Prime Minister will be talking to today.

“He’ll be saying that small businesses, as well as households, are front and centre as we go about our work.”

In state news, NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley has stared down growing opposition to controversial new youth bail laws from within her own party, challenging critics to travel to regional towns affected by an increase in youth crime.

Members of Labor’s left faction, the Australian Services Union and the Aboriginal Legal Service will gather in Sydney to urge the government to repeal changes to the Bail Act passed through parliament last month, which make it harder for offenders aged 14 to 18 already on bail for certain crimes to get bail if they recommit.

Speaking on Sydney radio earlier this morning, Catley said the Labor party was a “broad church”, but the changes were “about doing the right thing” for regional communities.

“What some people observing this in the city don’t understand is that repeated bail without backup, with no intervention whatsoever, is just a road to ruin,” she told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“I’m happy to look anyone in my party in the eye and tell them … to get out to Moree or Bourke or Wilcannia and tell these kids who are on their 20th bail how they’re going to keep them out of jail.”

Indigenous groups, legal organisations and Labor MPs have expressed serious concerns about the laws, with prominent Inner West Labor mayor Darcy Byrne saying: “Many party members remember how the Carr government’s tough-on-crime agenda led to more incarceration and recidivism and are worried that history is repeating itself.”

The changes come after Queensland last year overrode the state’s Human Rights Act to pass laws that made breaching bail an offence for children.

Israeli government spokesperson Avi Hyman defended the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers, and downplayed suggestions that Gaza is on the brink of famine in an interview with Sally Sara on ABC’s Radio National.

Hyman speculated that the deaths of the aid workers were a “misidentification”, as the IDF has claimed, stating he knew “definitively … that Hamas uses ambulances, uses aid workers as a cover for their activities”.

A vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen after the Israeli airstrike.

A vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen after the Israeli airstrike.Credit: AP

“I can tell you that just at the beginning of the week, we finished a two-week operation in the biggest hospital in Gaza [that] had been turned into a full military base.”

Sara interjected when Hyman suggested there were no issues with food shortages in Gaza, mentioning the UN’s stated concern for a potential famine.

Hyman said he knew there was food inside Gaza because “we are on the ground and we know exactly what is going on”.

What I can tell you is there are no allegations to my knowledge of actual starvation, actual famine. There have been projections on mathematical assertions based on false data, based on old data, based on out-of-date information.

So we know on the ground, that there is no imminent famine … it’s wildly exaggerated and the reason that it’s being exaggerated in international community is because people want to immediately stop the war.”

Hyman then repeated the claim that UN employees had participated in the October 7 attacks, stating he would “reject information coming out of Hamas-ruled Gaza”.

“We see on the ground that there is enough food to go around if Hamas would stop stealing it.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Israel’s claim they are protecting innocent people stands in stark contrast with their actions causing the death of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom.

On Tuesday, Frankcom was killed by an Israeli Defence Force strike while working for World Central Kitchen in Gaza.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during a press conference on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during a press conference on Tuesday.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Albanese told ABC Radio National this morning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must publish a full and transparent investigation and must be held accountable.

People would have seen the footage of the vehicle that was hit in this strike by an Israeli missile, that clearly is identified as being from the World Central Kitchen. These vehicles were carrying the best of humanity, people who’d come from all over the world to help Palestinians who are suffering.

For them to lose their lives in these circumstances is outrageous and completely unacceptable. Humanitarian workers are protected under international law and the Netanyahu government must publish a full, transparent investigation, and they must be held accountable.

One of the things that Israel says is that it is protecting people’s lives, innocent people – well, this stands in stark contrast.”

Albanese would not say if the investigation should be going to the International Criminal Court, after Frankcom’s family said they would support a war crime investigation.

We will take advice on an appropriate way forward as we await a full and transparent explanation personally from from Israel about what has occurred here and the circumstances.”

Liberal senator Dave Sharma has told ABC’s RN Breakfast that he doesn’t think shifting global perspectives on Israel will change its military objectives.

Liberal senator and former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma.

Liberal senator and former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Sharma suggested that he still believes Israel’s conduct was proportionate in the wake of the deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza, including Australian Zomi Frankcom.

I’m not on the ground there. But I’ve seen that in Israel’s conduct of this war they have sought to minimise civilian casualties. They have sought to allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance, and when they’ve made mistakes like they did, clearly yesterday, they’ve accounted for them, apologise[d] for them and promised a full and transparent investigation now in the in the heat of a conflict.”

Speaking from his experience as a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Sharma said that the “conflict is clearly causing [Israel] diplomatic difficulties”.

I don’t think there’s any explaining that away … I think that is undoubtedly true.

But I’d also say that this is a military operation or a diplomatic operation after [Israel] lost 1200 of its own citizens in a single day … [Israel’s] military objectives here are clear, which is to remove Hamas from power, recover its hostages and ensure that such an operation can never be mounted across their borders again.

I don’t think those military objectives are going to change depending on its international diplomatic situation, and I think they’re objectives that, incidentally, the Australian government shares, the United States shares, many members of the UN share as well.”

Celebrity chef Jose Andres said that an Israeli attack that killed seven of his food aid workers in Gaza had targeted them “systematically, car by car”.

Speaking in a video interview, Andres said the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity group he founded had clear communication with the Israeli military, which he said knew his aid workers’ movements.

US First Lady Jill Biden and Spain’s Queen Letizia meet with Andres in Spain in 2022.

US First Lady Jill Biden and Spain’s Queen Letizia meet with Andres in Spain in 2022.Credit: AP

This was not a “bad luck situation where, ‘oops,’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,” Andres said.

“Even if we were not in coordination with the [IDF], no democratic country and no military can be targeting civilians and humanitarians.”

The aid workers were killed when their convoy was hit shortly after they oversaw the unloading of 100 tons of food brought to Gaza by sea. Israel’s military expressed “severe sorrow” over the incident and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it unintentional.

Andres’ interview comes as the family of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom throws its support behind an investigation into whether the Israeli soldiers responsible for her death should be charged with war crimes.

The Israeli military said a preliminary investigation had found the convoy was struck as the result of a “misidentification”, an explanation that has failed to placate senior members of the government and Frankcom’s family.

Reuters with Matthew Knott

Houthi rebels in Yemen may be running through their supplies of drone swarms and anti-ship ballistic missiles as the pace of their attacks has slowed a bit, the top US Air Force commander for the Middle East said on Wednesday.

Alexus Grynkewich, who heads US Air Forces Central, said that the persistent American retaliatory strikes on the Iran-backed militia group have “certainly affected their behaviour. Their pace of operations is not what it was”.

Houthi supporters rally against US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Houthi supporters rally against US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.Credit: AP

The Houthis have been conducting near-daily attacks on commercial and military ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, launching drones and missiles from rebel-held areas of Yemen. The attacks – which are often unsuccessful, but at times have struck the ships – have disrupted a crucial shipping route.

Grynkewich said it’s difficult to know exactly how much the Houthis’ weapons supplies have been eroded by the US strikes because officials didn’t have a detailed intelligence assessment of their capabilities before the attacks began.

“The challenge for us is understanding what the denominator was at the beginning. In other words, what did they have on hand to start with? We obviously know how much we have struck, and we have assessments of how successful those strikes were,” he said.

“The other complicating factor is Iranian resupply.”

He said the US believes the Houthis had dozens of anti-ship ballistic missiles when they started, and they’ve launched dozens. So understanding how much Iran is able to restock the group is key.


Good morning, blog readers.

It’s Thursday, April 4. I’m Josefine Ganko, and I’ll be steering our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what’s making news this morning:

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