The Guardian 2024-02-17 00:01:16


Former president ordered to pay over $350m in New York financial fraud case

Donald Trump ordered to pay over $350m in New York financial fraud case

Trump also banned from running any New York corporation or entity for three years in devastating blow for ex-president

  • Donald Trump fraud trial ruling – live updates
  • How will Trump pay the penalties?

Donald Trump, his eldest sons and associates have been ordered to pay over $350m by a New York judge who found them guilty of intentionally committing financial fraud over the course of a decade.

“The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience,” Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in his decision. In a devastating blow for the former president who had built his reputation as a successful real estate developer, Engoron barred Trump and two other executives from serving as officers or directors of any corporation or entity in New York for three years. His sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr, were banned for two years.

The three-month hearing was an often heated affair with Trump attacking Engoron in and out of the courtroom. The former president’s decision to take on the judge appeared to backfire.

“Overall, Donald Trump rarely responded to the questions asked and he frequently interjected long, irrelevant speeches on issues far beyond the scope of the trial. His refusal to answer the questions directly, or in some cases, at all, severely compromised his credibility,” Engoron wrote.

In his decision Engoron said the defendants’ “fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility or to impose internal controls to prevent future recurrences” adding the defendants “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological”.

On his social media site Trump attacked the verdict, Engoron and his prosecutors. “This ‘decision’ is a Complete and Total SHAM. There were No Victims, No Damages, No Complaints. Only satisfied Banks and Insurance Companies (which made a ton of money), GREAT Financial Statements, that didn’t even include the most valuable Asset – The TRUMP Brand,” he wrote.

The decision will make it hard for any Trump family member to run the business in the near future. Trump’s adult sons were each fined $4m. Eric Trump acts as the Trump Organization’s chief executive.

The hefty fine comes on top of an $83.3m judgment against the former president in a defamation suit brought by the writer E Jean Carroll. Bloomberg estimates Trump’s net worth at $2.3bn, but it is unclear how much cash Trump has on hand.

The ruling marks the conclusion of a case that was years in the making. The New York attorney general, Letitia James, has been investigating Trump’s business since 2019. James hailed the ruling as a “massive victory”. “No matter how big, how rich, or how powerful you are, no one is above the law. Not even Donald Trump,” she said.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and will probably appeal the decision.

Prosecutors had asked Engoron for a lifetime ban along with a $370m fine, the amount they said Trump had profited after lying about his net worth and receiving lower interest rates from lenders.

The ruling is a follow-up to a pre-trial judgment Engoron issued in September based on document evidence. Engoron ruled Trump had misrepresented his net worth to lenders and ordered the cancellation of the Trump Organization’s business certificates, essentially ending its ability to continue operation in New York.

In Friday’s verdict, Engoron overturned his initial ruling, saying that “the cancellation of the business licenses is no longer necessary” as he is ordering the appointment of two court monitors to oversee “major activities that could lead to fraud”.

The actual trial was held to determine whether Trump would have to pay a fine. Prosecutors had to show Trump and the other defendants, including Trump’s adult sons and former Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney, had acted with intent. Forty witnesses testified during the three-month trial.

Prosecutors argued that Trump had lied on government financial statements, allowing him to receive more favorable loans from lenders. One of the most striking examples in the case concerned Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower, which records showed was reported to be 30,000 sq ft but is closer to 11,000 sq ft.

The court also heard that Trump overvalued his Seven Springs estate in Westchester county, New York, telling lenders that the property had development potential, though local residents had blocked Trump’s plans for the property. Trump also valued multiple rent-stabilized apartments in his Trump Park Avenue condominium at market rates.

Trump’s team tried to argue that the valuations were “worthless” because they contained a clause saying as much, an argument the judge rejected.

His lawyers also argued that the discrepancies were the fault of outside advisers and accounting errors, though they persisted for years and contradicted outside appraisals the company had received.

On the stand, Trump argued he could just look at a building and decide its worth. “All you have to do is look at a picture of the building and say: ‘That building,’” Trump said, talking about the Trump office building at 40 Wall Street. “You just look at it and you say: ‘That’s worth a lot more than $550m.’”

In determining the size of the fine, Engoron agreed with prosecutors that Trump saved about $168m in interest by inflating the value of assets. Another $126m came from calculating the “ill-gotten profits” Trump received from selling the Old Post Office building in Washington DC, which Trump would not have been able to purchase, Engoron said, without using false financial statements.

Explore more on these topics

  • Donald Trump
  • New York
  • Donald Trump Jr
  • Eric Trump
  • Real estate
  • news
Reuse this content

US liveTrump ‘perfected the art of the steal’, NY attorney general says – live

New York attorney general Letitia James has said: “Donald Trump may have authored the Art of the Deal, but he perfected the art of the steal.”

She’s just spoken at a press conference following the massive financial judgment against the former president and his sons Eric and Donald Jr on Friday for fraud.

She said:

Donald Trump falsely knowingly inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, his family and to cheat the system. This long running fraud was intentional, egregious, illegal, and he did it all of this with the help of the other defendants, his two adult sons, and senior executives at the Trump Organization.

And so, after 11 weeks of trial, we showed the staggering extent of his fraud and exactly how Donald Trump and the other defendants deceived banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions for their own personal gain.

We proved just how much Donald Trump his family and his company unjustly benefited from his fraud.

Trump Organization civil fraud trialFive key moments

Explainer

Trump Organization civil fraud trial: five key moments

The case ended with a $354.9m fine and a ban on running companies in New York – plus plenty of drama en route

  • Donald Trump fraud trial ruling – live updates

Donald Trump’s “art of the deal” has been picked to pieces over the last three months in a New York courthouse.

On Friday the former president was ordered to pay $354.9m, and barred from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or entity for three years.

The stakes of this civil fraud trial were high. Trump stood accused of inflating his net worth on government documents. Because of the documents-focused nature of the case, it was a bench trial with no jury. Judge Arthur Engoron was the sole decider of the case.

But that didn’t stop the former president from turning the trial into a spectacle that often resembled a mix between a campaign rally and a reality TV show.

Forty witnesses appeared over 44 days in court. From the appearance of Trump’s three adult children to his own time on the stand, here are five key moments from Trump’s fraud trial.


Engoron dropped a bombshell ruling days before the trial started. The judge said that documented evidence – millions of pages of financial statements and communications – showed Trump had committed fraud.

In his ruling, Engoron ordered a severe punishment, revoking Trump’s business and real estate licenses, essentially barring him from doing business in New York. But Trump appealed the ruling, which is still going through appellate court.

Still, the summary judgment was a huge victory for the attorney general’s office, and it made the trial an uphill battle for Trump’s team. Many of the arguments Trump’s lawyers used during the trial were ones Engoron had already struck down in his pre-trial ruling, like the so-called “worthless clause”.

When Trump took the witness stand, he tried to argue that clauses on the government documents said the valuations were not vetted, making the statements themselves “worthless”. Trump even had a note about the disclaimer clause in his pocket when he was on the stand.

“If you want to know about the disclaimer clause, read my opinion again – or for the first time, perhaps,” Engoron said, referencing his summary judgment, where he argued that the worthless clause argument was “worthless” in itself.

Because the core of the case was decided before proceedings began, the trial itself was focused on determining the fine Trump would have to pay.


When Engoron issued his pre-trial ruling, Trump on social media called him “deranged”, setting the antagonistic tone Trump took against Engoron from the start of the trial.

But Trump pushed Engoron’s patience when he mocked Engoron’s principal law clerk on social media after the trial’s first day, posting a picture of the clerk with the Democratic senator Chuck Schumer and calling her “Schumer’s girlfriend”. In response to the post, Engoron issued a gag order barring Trump from speaking out publicly about members of his staff.

Things got heated in the courtroom later on in the trial, when Trump held a press conference outside the courtroom during the testimony of Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer.

“This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” he told the cluster of reporters.

Soon, Engoron addressed the comments in the courtroom, saying that he believed Trump was referring to his law clerk, and he was considering serious punishment for violating his gag order. Engoron allowed Trump to briefly testify that he was referring to Cohen when he made the statement. But Engoron ultimately said he did not believe Trump, fining him $10,000 for the comment.

“I am very protective of my staff, as I should be. We all know that we are in an overheated environment,” Engoron said. “I don’t want anyone to be killed.”

Though Trump tried to appeal Engoron’s gag order, an appellate court ultimately upheld it in January.

Engoron’s concerns were not unfounded: court records show Engoron received an influx of death threats to his phone. On the last day of the trial, right before closing arguments, a bomb squad was sent to Engoron’s house in East New York after a serious threat.


When he was called into the courtroom as a witness, Michael Cohen strolled into the courtroom wearing jeans. Trump sat opposite him, flanked by his lawyers, scowling at his former lawyer and fixer. In a comment to reporters on break from his testimony, Cohen called it “a heck of a reunion”.

It was the first time Cohen had faced his former boss since they parted ways in 2017. Cohen would ultimately go to prison for three years for schemes he conducted under Trump.

Much of Cohen’s time on the stand was focused on his credibility as a witness. Part of Cohen’s prison sentence was punishment for lying to Congress, which Trump’s lawyers said made him not a credible witness for the case.

But at the very end of Cohen’s testimony, when Trump’s lawyers tried to dismiss the whole case based on the testimony, Engoron said he did not see Cohen as a key witness.

“There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” Engoron said.

Still, Cohen’s appearance was a reunion in more ways than one. Sitting in the audience during his testimony were two key lawyers, Susan Necheles and Susan Hoffinger, in Trump’s upcoming hush-money trial. Necheles will be representing Trump while Hoffinger will be fighting for the Manhattan district attorney’s office. That trial is set to start in March.

Necheles and Hoffinger probably attended this trial to see how Cohen held up on the stand – he is a key witness in the case since he helped facilitate payments to the adult film star Stormy Daniels. The lawyers’ appearance served as a reminder that as this case ends, Trump’s trials are far from over.


Over two weeks, the court was treated to a family affair. Trump’s adult children took the witness stand in a marathon of family testimony.

Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump – all of whom have served or are serving as executives of the Trump Organization – were each interrogated by prosecutors over the financial statements at the center of the case. But the siblings didn’t offer much clarity, often returning to the phrase “I don’t recall” during their testimonies.

Donald Trump Jr, the eldest son and first to testify, emphasized a point that his siblings would also make during their testimonies: when it came to the financial statements, he would “leave that to my accountants”, specifically the outside accounting firm the company hired. This is despite signing documents, prosecutors pointed out, that said the valuations in statements were the responsibility of the Trump Organization.

Eric Trump took the brunt of questioning for his work on the family’s Seven Springs property in Westchester county, New York. Documents implied Eric was involved in valuations of the property, which the Trump family had purchased in the 90s with the hopes of developing a golf course or a cluster of luxury homes.

Even after local residents blocked plans to develop the property, the Trump Organization listed the valuation of the property as if it could still be built on. But when Eric was asked about discrepancies on financial statements, he said he had no recollection of giving information for the statements.

“That’s not the focus of my day. I focus on construction, I don’t focus on appraisals,” Eric Trump said during his testimony.


As a witness, Trump was prone to angry rants directed at the judge and the New York attorney general, Letitia James – things that delight his followers but probably hurt his credibility in court.

“We have a hostile judge, and it’s sad,” Trump said, adding later that “the fraud is on behalf of the court.”

Engoron jumped in multiple times during his testimony to remonstrate with Trump’s lawyers over their client’s unruliness.

“I beseech you to control him or I will,” Engoron said.

Even during the tamer moments of Trump’s testimony, he spoke wistfully and, at times, incoherently about his properties. When talking about one of his Scottish golf clubs, he said, “At some point, at a very old age, I’ll do the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see,” providing no specifics.

Trump’s testimony confirmed what was being made clear throughout the trial, that he seemed to care more about the cameras waiting outside the courtroom, that would broadcast his face and words to his followers across the country.

Explore more on these topics

  • Donald Trump
  • New York
  • explainers
Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Testing regime meant to stop toxic chemicals going into NSW landscape products gamed by suppliers
  • Donald Trump ordered to pay over $350m in New York financial fraud case
  • Western leaders point finger at Putin after Alexei Navalny’s death in jail
  • Alexei Navalny death: dozens reportedly arrested in Russia protests as Biden blames Putin ‘and his thugs’ – as it happened
  • Taylor Swift Eras tour Melbourne concert: relive the pop star’s biggest ever show – as it happened

Civil trialsHow will Donald Trump pay the $438m he owes in penalties?

Explainer

How will Donald Trump pay the $438m he owes in penalties from civil trials?

Two giant penalties handed down in a matter of weeks will cost him millions – and that’s only part of what he could owe

  • Full report: Trump ordered to pay over $350m in New York fraud case
  • Trump fraud trial ruling – live updates

In a matter of weeks, Donald Trump was hit with two giant penalties from two civil trials in New York – $83m for defamation against the writer E Jean Carroll and $354.9m for inflating the value of his assets on government financial statements.

The verdicts combined will cost him some $438m, and that’s only part of what Trump could owe across numerous lawsuits. The payments will probably create a sizable dent in his wallet. Bloomberg’s billionaires’ list estimated that Trump’s net worth in 2021 was about $2.3bn, meaning these two rulings alone could take out almost a fifth of Trump’s net worth.

Trump’s finances have been notoriously opaque, not least because the Trump Organization is a private business, meaning it does not have to file public financial reports. But here’s what we know about what Trump has to pay and how it will affect his finances.

It all depends on the appeals

Trump is likely to appeal both cases, the outcomes of which could affect how much he ends up owing. It is unclear how long the appeals will take. For reference, an appeals court has yet to rule on a May 2023 ruling for a separate Carroll case that found Trump guilty of sexual abuse and defamation. Trump was ordered to pay $5m in damages in that case.

Also, the appeals court is technically considering two appeals coming out of Trump’s fraud trial. The first appeal came after a September pre-trial ruling found Trump guilty of fraud, ordering the removal of his business licenses. The second appeal is about the penalty the New York judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay after the months-long trial. It is unclear whether the appeals court will decide on the two appeals together or separately, but it will probably be at least a few months before any decision is announced.

Bankruptcy for Trump is unlikely

While $438m is no small sum, Trump is wealthy. Trump ally Rudy Giuliani declared bankruptcy after a jury ordered him to pay $148m to two Georgia election workers; the former New York mayor has declared he owes between $100m and $500m and has assets of between $1m and $10m.

To declare bankruptcy, Trump would have to prove that the verdict outweighs his assets, something that is highly unlikely.

During a deposition with prosecutors for the fraud trial in April 2023, Trump said that he had more than $400m in cash. However, last year, Forbes reported that Trump had since invested the bulk of his cash in bonds and treasuries, with a small portion kept in stocks and mutual funds. After his guilty verdicts, Trump will probably have to sell a good chunk of those investments.

A big question is whether Trump will have to touch anything in his real estate portfolio. Trump has gotten a cash boost from selling his properties before: he sold his golf club in the Bronx last year, and in 2022, he completed the sale of the Old Post Office building in Washington DC, which was converted into a hotel. Court documents showed that the sale of the Old Post Office netted $131.4m before taxes, according to the New York Times.

It will be a tough decision for a man who, just several years ago, claimed he was worth $10bn. This pride in his wealth has recently been used against him. In closing arguments in Carroll’s January trial, her lawyers told the jury that they should punish Trump with higher damages precisely because he claims he is so wealthy.

“A billionaire like Donald Trump could pay a million dollars a day for 10 years and still have money left in the bank,” Carroll attorney’s Roberta Kaplan told the jury on 26 January. “It will take an unusually high punitive damages award to have any hope of stopping Donald Trump.”

Trump will still have to pay the court, even as appeals go through

Even though Trump is waiting on multiple appeals decisions, he will have to give the court the money to hold on to. If Trump wins any of his appeals, he can get his money back.

Trump has a few options in paying the court. He could pay up everything that he owes now in cash. Or he could try to get an appeal bond, meaning he wouldn’t have to pay all the cash up front in exchange for a premium and putting up collateral.

In his May 2023 Carroll case, Trump set aside the $5m he owed in cash, saving him about $55,500 in what would have been bond premiums. Though Trump may prefer to pay out the verdicts in cash, it is unclear whether he has enough on hand to avoid a bond this time.

Trump has been zealously fundraising off his legal troubles, probably because he has sizable legal fees for his two civil trials and four criminal trials.

What Trump can pay for using his campaign money is unclear. A federal law bans candidates from using campaign funds for personal use, making it unlikely that Trump can use campaign funds to help pay off some of the Carroll award and fraud penalty.

But Trump has not shied away from using campaign funds for some of his trials. The Associated Press reported in October that Trump’s Save America political action committee (Pac) had paid $37m in legal fees, more than half of the Pac’s total spending.

And the money keeps flowing in. Trump was the Republican candidate who received the most donations last fall, raising $45.5m in the third quarter. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the race in January, raised the second most, taking in about $30m.

Explore more on these topics

  • Donald Trump
  • Law (US)
  • Real estate
  • New York
  • E Jean Carroll
  • explainers
Reuse this content

Testing regime meant to stop toxic chemicals going into NSW landscape products gamed by suppliers

Testing regime meant to stop toxic chemicals going into NSW landscape products gamed by suppliers

Exclusive: Manufacturers retest contaminated soil fill until it ‘complies’ with regulations and can then be used at childcare centres, schools or parks

  • Map and full list of locations where asbestos mulch has been found
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A testing regime meant to stop toxic chemicals going into landscaping products in New South Wales has been gamed by suppliers who kept retesting samples until they passed.

Waste facilities making soil fill from construction and demolition waste – called “recovered fines” – are required to test their product for hazardous contaminants and report results to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) if they exceed legislated thresholds.

But a 2019 investigation by the environment watchdog – obtained exclusively by Guardian Australia – found almost half of the manufacturers instead asked the laboratories to simply retest the samples until they achieved an acceptable result. On one occasion a sample was tested six times in total.

Guardian Australia can reveal:

  • 43% of facilities were requesting retesting and were only doing so after they received a result that breached state regulations

  • Waste facilities were sending in samples for testing that looked very different to material EPA officials collected from their stockpiles, a separate 2013 report shows

  • One testing laboratory alleged it was asked by manufacturers “not to report the presence of suspected asbestos”

The revelations will create further headaches for the Minns government which is already dealing with a snowballing crisis related to asbestos-contaminated mulch – which is covered by a separate set of regulations.

Parks and schools have been closed while areas of hospitals and supermarkets have been fenced off. The scandal has led to the largest probe ever by the EPA with 130 staff working on the criminal investigation.

Internal EPA documents obtained by Guardian Australia show the retesting of recovered fines samples had the effect of making it look as though products sold to consumers complied with state regulations, when they did not.

In one presentation, the EPA wrote the practice of retesting created “type 1 errors in decision making – concluding the waste is compliant when in fact it is not”.

Ian Wright, an environmental scientist and associate professor at Western Sydney University who has studied toxins in products such as recycled concrete, said retesting was “a real worry”.

“That’s as logical as a doctor or pathologist retesting for a life-threatening illness, getting bad news five times and then on test six you get a different result and that’s the result you share with the patient,” he told Guardian Australia of the self-regulatory system. “How is that appropriate?”

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Recovered fines are a soil or sand substitute made from the processing of construction and demolition waste – including skip bin residue – after all large recyclable material has been removed.

Waste facilities in NSW produce about 700,000 tonnes of recovered fines each year that are sold as fill for projects including landscaping, sporting fields and residential developments. The product is not allowed to be used on agricultural land or around water infrastructure.

In one example uncovered by the 2019 EPA investigation, a facility asked a lab to retest a sample an additional five times for lead. Only the sixth and final test returned a favourable result of 68mg/kg – under the EPA’s absolute maximum concentration limit of 250mg/kg.

The five other results ranged from 2,850mg/kg to 5,610mg/kg – between 10 and 20 times the limit. The facility discounted the first five measurements and used the sixth as evidence it had “passed”.

The watchdog’s investigation found 43% of facilities were requesting retesting after breaches that included exceeding absolute maximum concentration limits for different types of contaminants and maximum average concentration limits.

Requests were also made after asbestos was detected. Under the laws, facilities are not required to test for asbestos and the EPA investigation found only 29% were doing so.

Guardian Australia revealed in late January that the EPA had known about concerns regarding recovered fines products for more than a decade, after two investigations found widespread breaches of regulations meant to limit the spread of contaminants such as lead and asbestos.

The regulator walked away from a plan to tighten regulations after pushback from industry, despite noting there was a risk that up to 658,000 tonnes of “non-compliant material” could be used in the community each year, including on “sensitive land” such as residential sites, childcare facilities, schools and parks.

Documents show the EPA was also aware retesting was occurring more than a decade ago when a 2013 investigation of the industry detected the practice.

EPA investigators wrote in that report it “was apparent that reanalysis was the method of choice to deal with non-compliant sample results”.

The 2013 investigation uncovered other concerning practices including “significant inconsistencies” – both visual and analytical – between samples some facilities provided to laboratories for testing and samples EPA officials collected purportedly from the same stockpiles.

Side-by-side photos in the report show the visual differences, with the samples some facilities sent to laboratories appearing to contain more clean soil than the recovered fines EPA officials collected on site.

The report states that given the short timeframe between the facilities’ own sampling and the EPA sampling, the inconsistencies were best explained by: “Consultants not competently sampling materials; non-representative sampling by facility operators; laboratories not competently handling/analysing received samples; and/or deliberate misrepresentation by facilities and/or laboratories of recovered fines produced.”

The EPA officials who worked on the 2013 investigation also reported that one laboratory said staff “often find suspected asbestos-containing material in samples of recovered fines submitted for analysis”.

“According to the laboratory representative, they have been advised by the sample submitters not to report the presence of suspected asbestos-containing material as it is not a specific requirement in the [regulations],” the report stated.

“This situation is a perverse interpretation … as any waste containing asbestos is, by definition, asbestos waste. This is also an interpretation that can potentially put end users of recovered fines at unnecessary risks.”

The report recommended soil fill made from skip bin materials only be used as cover material at rubbish dumps. It recommended regulations be amended to explicitly prohibit recovered fines from being sold to landscapers and landscape material suppliers. The recommendations weren’t adopted.

According to the EPA’s 2019 study, 57% of facilities had asbestos in their recovered fines.

The NSW Greens environment spokesperson, Sue Higginson, said the practices uncovered in the 2013 and 2019 investigations were “evidence of regulatory failure”.

“The buck starts and stops with the EPA,” she said.

An EPA spokesperson said when the authority became aware that labs were finding asbestos in recovered fine samples but were asked not to report it by clients “we reinforced their obligations to always report asbestos presence in samples when detected”.

“We also advised that any laboratory that does not report the known presence of asbestos may have supplied false or misleading information,” the spokesperson said on Friday, adding penalties of up to $1m could apply.

“If the EPA receives a report that information being provided in lab reports or waste classification reports is false and misleading, the EPA investigates these allegations and has prosecuted these types of incidents in the past.”

The authority said that since 2013 it had “undertaken a series of reforms to the regulation of the construction and demolition sector to improve the quality of the industry”.

The EPA’s executive director of regulatory practice and services, Stephen Beaman, said “retesting is not best practice and we want to stamp it out”.

“Retesting [is] only acceptable if there is an actual laboratory or analytical error that would mean the test result was not reliable and needed to be repeated,” he told Guardian Australia.

“To reduce this practice, the EPA provided industry with best practice sampling and reporting information and resources to improve staff training.”

Beaman said the EPA was conducting site inspections and sampling to assess the compliance of facilities that produce recovered fines. The results of that enforcement campaign are expected by the end of March 2024.

The campaign is not examining historical sampling data or looking at retesting.

The management of asbestos in recovered fines remains under review by the state’s chief scientist whose report is expected later this year.

  • Do you know more? Email lisa.cox@theguardian.com

Explore more on these topics

  • New South Wales
  • Pollution
  • news
Reuse this content

Eye-popping spectacle from a generous performer

Review

Taylor Swift: The Eras tour Melbourne show review – eye-popping spectacle from a generous performer

Melbourne Cricket Ground
Swift delivers a completely engrossing three and a half hours of pure joy, and with 96,000 fans in attendance, it’s the biggest concert of the tour – and her career

When Taylor Swift first played in Melbourne 15 years ago, it was to an audience of 900. This week in the city, the US megastar performs for a quarter of a million.

Love her or hate her, there’s no denying it: Australia is in the thick of Swiftmania. Leading up to the hotly anticipated Australian leg of Swift’s Eras Tour, Melbourne was lit up with it all, from a Swift-themed academic symposium to a pop-up merchandise stand at Crown, to a projection on Flinders Street Station welcoming Swifties to town – with the clock striking 13, naturally.

It feels historic. What other musician has inspired this level of fanaticism since, dare I say it, the Beatles? We’re talking seismic impacts from cheering at her shows, and the growing practice of Taylor-gating, in which ticketless fans gather outside the stadium to listen in and sing along together.

The Eras Tour – the highest-grossing concert tour of all time (of all time!) – has been a fascinating beast to watch from afar. Moving through the stages of Swift’s chameleonic career, it’s smartly designed for maximum engagement. Each night Swift plays an essentially identical setlist bar two “surprise songs”. A concert film was released in October, so most fans know exactly what to expect (and have learned all the dances and chants from TikTok).

The excitement is palpable and the atmosphere electric at the MCG on the first of her seven Australian shows. With 96,000 fans in attendance, it’s the biggest show of the tour – and her career – yet.

Thousands of strangers become instant friends inside and outside the show. Young women swap handmade friendship bracelets and compliment each other’s outfits, often elaborate and handmade. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels my inner child healing – to paraphrase Swift herself, it gives me back my girlhood.

The show itself is an eye-popping spectacle and completely engrossing – it clocks in at an impressive three and a half hours, but flies by. The singer dips into each of her albums – other than 2006’s self-titled album (justice for Debut!) – which are represented by distinctive outfits and personalities: the dreamy hues of Lover, the gold of Fearless, the earthy, bucolic Folklore and Evermore, the gritty edge of Reputation, the princess gowns of Speak Now, the passion of Red, the metropolitan cool of 1989, the glitz and glam of Midnights.

Each fan receives a wristband, which flashes in colours to match the era. Moving platforms, stairs and intricate sets – a forest seance for Evermore, a log cabin for Folklore – and a slick team of tightly choreographed dancers (including internet sensation Kameron Saunders, on fire as always) ensure there is always something to marvel at. Pyrotechnics, enormous smoke machines and fireworks – par for the course at this stage.

Swift is a generous, genuine performer. Much of her audience banter is scripted, but there’s nothing fake about the tears she sheds as she surveys the enormous crowd after Champagne Problems. Her stamina is incredible and her voice in fine form, but never better than on the evening’s two highlights, the 10-minute version of All Too Well and the live debut of You’re Losing Me on piano – breakup songs so vivid and emotional that screaming along with her and tens of thousands of others, I almost forgot I’m in a happy relationship.

It’s pure joy. So much of the Eras Tour is fan service, from the inclusion of fan anthem Long Live (added later in the tour) to Easter eggs and iconic Swift moments, such as the Fearless spin. In the sweetest moment of each night, a fan – usually a child – is handed a hat off Swift’s head during her performance of 22.

This is a fan base who can spot even the slightest difference in a performance – a single note change in The 1 draws rapturous cheers, and a spirited shout in the chorus of The Last Great American Dynasty feels like it’s just for us.

The Eras Tour is, Swift says, for new fans and those who have been there since the very beginning. Judging by the number of millennial mothers and their young daughters, it’s become intergenerational. The feeling really is one of inclusion and love – the show somehow feels simultaneously massive and like the most intimate thing in the world.

On the crowded walk back into the city after the show, a busker sings You Belong With Me and we all sing along. Swift’s refrain from All Too Well echoes in my head: I was there, I was there. When I woke up this morning, my wristband was still flashing colours above my bed, as if to say: yes, you were.

Explore more on these topics

  • Taylor Swift
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney
  • reviews
Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Testing regime meant to stop toxic chemicals going into NSW landscape products gamed by suppliers
  • Donald Trump ordered to pay over $350m in New York financial fraud case
  • Western leaders point finger at Putin after Alexei Navalny’s death in jail
  • Alexei Navalny death: dozens reportedly arrested in Russia protests as Biden blames Putin ‘and his thugs’ – as it happened
  • Taylor Swift Eras tour Melbourne concert: relive the pop star’s biggest ever show – as it happened

PicturesTaylor Swift performs at the MCG in front of her largest ever crowd and the Swifties love it

Taylor SwiftMelbourne’s Love Story with US singer – video

Taylor Swift played her biggest concert yet at Melbourne’s MCG arena, where 96,000 fans gathered for the first of three nights. Swift’s Eras tour features songs from all of her albums to date, with a few surprises along the way. Fans dressed for their favourite era and thousands sang one of her most famous hits, Love Story, around the arena

  • Melbourne airport faces busiest day since pre-pandemic ahead of Taylor Swift concerts

  • Taylor Swift Melbourne concert – as it happened

Topics

SydneyTaylor Swift concerts to go ahead despite asbestos testing at Olympic Park precinct

Taylor Swift concerts to go ahead in Sydney despite asbestos testing at Olympic Park precinct

Environment minister says authorities are testing mulch in the area but any issues would be resolved before pop star’s sold-out shows at Accor Stadium

  • Taylor Swift Melbourne concert live updates: Eras tour hits Australia
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The New South Wales environment minister has sought to assure Taylor Swift fans that the pop star’s Sydney concerts will go ahead next weekend, amid an asbestos scare at the precinct where she is due to perform.

On Friday, the day after a special taskforce was launched to aid investigations into sites where mulch containing asbestos may be present, authorities have conducted testing at a location at Sydney Olympic Park, where Swift is set to perform to about 300,000 fans over four days of concerts as part of her Australian tour.

Testing occurred on mulch on a median strip on a divided road on Friday, in a spot understood to be away from where the public would be expected to walk on the way to Accor Stadium, the 80,000-capacity venue where Swift will perform.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

No traces of asbestos were found on Friday and a backup test is being conducted as a precaution, the minister, Penny Sharpe, said on Friday afternoon.

If the follow-up test finds traces of asbestos, the mulch will be removed in time for Swift’s concerts, Sharpe said.

“This will not stop Taylor Swift performing in Sydney,” Sharpe said. “Sydney Olympic Park Authority is inspecting mulch that came from the supply chain under investigation, that has been used on a median strip on a divided road.

“We are testing samples but, regardless, we can remove the mulch and remediate before Taylor Swift takes to the stage in the Harbour City.”

The NSW Environment Protection Authority, which has declared it is conducting the largest investigation of its existence, also said the asbestos scare would not affect the Blink-182 concerts set to take place at Qudos Bank Arena, also at Sydney Olympic Park, next weekend.

“At this stage, there is no sign of any asbestos in the mulch around the park,” an EPA spokesperson said.

“We will advise once those results are finalised. Nothing will disrupt the Taylor Swift or Blink-182 concerts.”

The testing at Olympic Park comes after the state’s asbestos controversy reached new heights, with numerous parks closed off due to mulch fears. Concerns for mulch at Victoria Park forced organisers to cancel the Mardi Gras fair day.

On Thursday, the premier, Chris Minns, said hundreds of sites across Sydney could be contaminated with asbestos, including parks, schools, train stations and suburban back yards.

A surge workforce of public servants and firefighters will assist the EPA as it expands its criminal investigation into mulch found to contain asbestos across Sydney and regional NSW.

The state’s asbestos crisis erupted in early January after the hazardous material was first discovered in mulch at the newly opened Rozelle parklands.

Additional reporting by Tamsin Rose and Catie McLeod

Explore more on these topics

  • Taylor Swift
  • New South Wales
  • Sydney
  • news
Reuse this content

When it comes to failure of responsibility, there are far greater examples than Barnaby Joyce’s pavement incident

When it comes to failure of responsibility, there are far greater examples than Barnaby Joyce’s pavement incident

Paul Karp

While the footpath fiasco took all the attention, it turns out suspected gun runners and drug traffickers were running offshore detention

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The footage was embarrassing. Barnaby Joyce, the former deputy prime minister and current shadow minister, swearing into his phone, supine on Lonsdale street, Braddon, in the nation’s capital.

The incident sparked criticism in the Nationals party room, a cross-bench call for random alcohol and drug testing in parliament and a makeshift memorial crafted by the mischievous Ken Behrens (Canberrans).

While Joyce largely kept to himself after admitting his “mistake”, his leader, David Littleproud, unhelpfully hinted at “family circumstances” beyond the “mixture of medication and alcohol” as the cause. He publicly suggested Joyce take some figurative downtime.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

But despite the interest in the episode fuelled by a mix of concern and schadenfreude, I’m not sure much was learned.

Some, including the Greens, argued there is a double standard in the way Joyce was treated in comparison with senator Lidia Thorpe, after her tirade at a Melbourne strip club was also caught on film.

I don’t think anyone quite explained why the double standard should be resolved by harsher judgment of Joyce’s personal failing rather than being more forgiving of similar (albeit not identical) incidents involving female parliamentarians.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, argued that democratic accountability at the ballot box – not the breathalyser – was the way to go.

If voters in New England were not sufficiently moved by a sexual harassment complaint, which Joyce has always denied, it’s hard to imagine they will care about this.

The bigger force at play is the sense by some Nationals that Joyce joining Scott Morrison in parliament’s exit lounge would help make a more decisive break from the Morrison-Joyce era and the 2022 defeat.

That judgment might be right but it has nothing to do with the planter box incident, it’s just pure politics. Is it any surprise that Joyce’s instinct so far has been to argue “no harm, no foul” and insist that we should all move on?

There was a much bigger failure of responsibility on display in parliament this week. Not the personal kind, but of ministerial responsibility.

The government released the Richardson review, which found that contractors suspected of drug smuggling and weapons trafficking were handed multimillion dollar contracts due to a lack of due diligence in the administration of Australia’s offshore detention regime.

Richardson found no evidence of ministerial involvement, but this didn’t stop the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, trying to stick this to the opposition leader and former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton. She accused him of overseeing “an offshore processing regime being used as a slush fund by suspected criminals” when he was the responsible minister.

This was undercut by the post-Pezzullo departmental secretary, Stephanie Foster, who told Senate estimates that Richardson’s view was “it would take the wisdom of two Solomons to identify in the complex arrangements and over the length of time with which individual officers and at what level accountability should rest”.

I’m not sure that’s really good enough. A culture of overlooking potential probity issues is more likely to continue if there is no attempt at imposing consequences on those responsible, however imperfect that process might be.

That Richardson couldn’t work it out is the best argument yet for a royal commission into offshore detention.

Royal commissioner Catherine Holmes didn’t shy away from the task of meting out responsibility for the robodebt scheme. Why should this be any different?

The reason the Westminster system has a concept of ministerial responsibility is so that there is one person to blame. Responsibility can’t be outsourced to the bureaucracy and dissipated to the point it may as well not exist.

The shorthand rule that if you’re the minister, it’s always your responsibility is what encourages a proactive approach, and penalises a see no evil, hear no evil, head-in-the-sand one.

Unfortunately that convention has been so degraded that O’Neil’s attacks didn’t really puncture Dutton’s armour of indifference.

He continued to go into battle with shadow ministerial colleagues every day in question time, targeting the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, for releases from detention required by the high court’s NZYQ ruling.

In addition to some lurid statistics about the criminal offences committed by the 149 people released, home affairs department officials also revealed that Giles did not sign off on, nor even receive the first version of the agreed facts of the NZYQ case.

The Coalition argues that, because this contained the concession that it was impossible to deport NZYQ before any efforts to do so, Giles dropped the ball and lost the case.

But even after the government adopted a no stone unturned approach, it proved impossible to deport NZYQ, who had raped a 10-year-old.

That suggests the case would always have gone ahead, the commonwealth would always have lost, and whoever was in government would always have had the unpleasant task of releasing people who have served their time but have substantial criminal records. Counterfactuals are likely nothing more than wishful thinking.

Of course it’s the opposition’s job to scrutinise the government’s handling of the NZYQ case. But it was a glaring double standard to see the Coalition turn the blowtorch on Giles for what he should have but didn’t know, while Dutton shrugged off the offshore detention debacle.

At enormous expense and with questionable probity, offshore detention achieved its aim of shifting asylum seekers out of sight and out of mind.

It couldn’t capture public attention like a former deputy PM swearing on the pavement, but it was the lack of responsibility on Dutton’s part that was the greatest failure exposed this week.

Explore more on these topics

  • Barnaby Joyce
  • Australian politics
  • Anthony Albanese
  • Peter Dutton
  • Australian immigration and asylum
  • Clare O’Neil
  • comment
Reuse this content

When it comes to failure of responsibility, there are far greater examples than Barnaby Joyce’s pavement incident

When it comes to failure of responsibility, there are far greater examples than Barnaby Joyce’s pavement incident

Paul Karp

While the footpath fiasco took all the attention, it turns out suspected gun runners and drug traffickers were running offshore detention

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The footage was embarrassing. Barnaby Joyce, the former deputy prime minister and current shadow minister, swearing into his phone, supine on Lonsdale street, Braddon, in the nation’s capital.

The incident sparked criticism in the Nationals party room, a cross-bench call for random alcohol and drug testing in parliament and a makeshift memorial crafted by the mischievous Ken Behrens (Canberrans).

While Joyce largely kept to himself after admitting his “mistake”, his leader, David Littleproud, unhelpfully hinted at “family circumstances” beyond the “mixture of medication and alcohol” as the cause. He publicly suggested Joyce take some figurative downtime.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

But despite the interest in the episode fuelled by a mix of concern and schadenfreude, I’m not sure much was learned.

Some, including the Greens, argued there is a double standard in the way Joyce was treated in comparison with senator Lidia Thorpe, after her tirade at a Melbourne strip club was also caught on film.

I don’t think anyone quite explained why the double standard should be resolved by harsher judgment of Joyce’s personal failing rather than being more forgiving of similar (albeit not identical) incidents involving female parliamentarians.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, argued that democratic accountability at the ballot box – not the breathalyser – was the way to go.

If voters in New England were not sufficiently moved by a sexual harassment complaint, which Joyce has always denied, it’s hard to imagine they will care about this.

The bigger force at play is the sense by some Nationals that Joyce joining Scott Morrison in parliament’s exit lounge would help make a more decisive break from the Morrison-Joyce era and the 2022 defeat.

That judgment might be right but it has nothing to do with the planter box incident, it’s just pure politics. Is it any surprise that Joyce’s instinct so far has been to argue “no harm, no foul” and insist that we should all move on?

There was a much bigger failure of responsibility on display in parliament this week. Not the personal kind, but of ministerial responsibility.

The government released the Richardson review, which found that contractors suspected of drug smuggling and weapons trafficking were handed multimillion dollar contracts due to a lack of due diligence in the administration of Australia’s offshore detention regime.

Richardson found no evidence of ministerial involvement, but this didn’t stop the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, trying to stick this to the opposition leader and former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton. She accused him of overseeing “an offshore processing regime being used as a slush fund by suspected criminals” when he was the responsible minister.

This was undercut by the post-Pezzullo departmental secretary, Stephanie Foster, who told Senate estimates that Richardson’s view was “it would take the wisdom of two Solomons to identify in the complex arrangements and over the length of time with which individual officers and at what level accountability should rest”.

I’m not sure that’s really good enough. A culture of overlooking potential probity issues is more likely to continue if there is no attempt at imposing consequences on those responsible, however imperfect that process might be.

That Richardson couldn’t work it out is the best argument yet for a royal commission into offshore detention.

Royal commissioner Catherine Holmes didn’t shy away from the task of meting out responsibility for the robodebt scheme. Why should this be any different?

The reason the Westminster system has a concept of ministerial responsibility is so that there is one person to blame. Responsibility can’t be outsourced to the bureaucracy and dissipated to the point it may as well not exist.

The shorthand rule that if you’re the minister, it’s always your responsibility is what encourages a proactive approach, and penalises a see no evil, hear no evil, head-in-the-sand one.

Unfortunately that convention has been so degraded that O’Neil’s attacks didn’t really puncture Dutton’s armour of indifference.

He continued to go into battle with shadow ministerial colleagues every day in question time, targeting the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, for releases from detention required by the high court’s NZYQ ruling.

In addition to some lurid statistics about the criminal offences committed by the 149 people released, home affairs department officials also revealed that Giles did not sign off on, nor even receive the first version of the agreed facts of the NZYQ case.

The Coalition argues that, because this contained the concession that it was impossible to deport NZYQ before any efforts to do so, Giles dropped the ball and lost the case.

But even after the government adopted a no stone unturned approach, it proved impossible to deport NZYQ, who had raped a 10-year-old.

That suggests the case would always have gone ahead, the commonwealth would always have lost, and whoever was in government would always have had the unpleasant task of releasing people who have served their time but have substantial criminal records. Counterfactuals are likely nothing more than wishful thinking.

Of course it’s the opposition’s job to scrutinise the government’s handling of the NZYQ case. But it was a glaring double standard to see the Coalition turn the blowtorch on Giles for what he should have but didn’t know, while Dutton shrugged off the offshore detention debacle.

At enormous expense and with questionable probity, offshore detention achieved its aim of shifting asylum seekers out of sight and out of mind.

It couldn’t capture public attention like a former deputy PM swearing on the pavement, but it was the lack of responsibility on Dutton’s part that was the greatest failure exposed this week.

Explore more on these topics

  • Barnaby Joyce
  • Australian politics
  • Anthony Albanese
  • Peter Dutton
  • Australian immigration and asylum
  • Clare O’Neil
  • comment
Reuse this content

Anti-government groups find new energy in environment battles

First lockdown, then the voice, now renewables? Anti-government groups find new energy in environment battles

Protests against Australia’s transition to renewable power have attracted a wide coalition of interests, from mainstream parties to the wild shores of conspiracy

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The protest signs at last week’s rally against renewables in Canberra spoke of hyperlocal concerns – but also cabals and plots of global proportion.

Some spoke of immediate worries linked to environmental policies: “Oberon betrayed by state forestry”; and “Say no to Twin Creek wind farm”.

But others decried a supposed “Attack on humanity: the great reset” – a reference to conspiracy theories about a a plot to reshape the world using the Covid-19 pandemic as a cover.

A red ensign flag, which has come to represent Australia’s anti-lockdown movement, flapped above the stage in front of Parliament House as an irrigator described solar projects as “environmental terrorism”.

The event, billed as the Reckless Renewables rally, is part of an increasingly loud fight over clean energy, as the government pushes for 82% of power to come from renewable sources within six years. There were about 500 people at the event, according to ACT police.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Some speakers raised concerns about potential damage to the natural environment and the adequacy of community consultation in areas where these projects may be rolled out – an issue of social licence recently acknowledged by the Australian energy infrastructure commissioner. Others, veterans of decades-long campaigns against climate action, repeated claims that renewables will take up vast amounts of prime agricultural land.

But the sprawling network of Facebook groups that helped to promote the event suggests the issue has attracted the attention of a wide coalition of interests ranging from mainstream political parties to the wilder fringes of anti-government movements energised by Trumpian themes, pandemic lockdowns and a host of grievances apparently unrelated to protecting Australia’s farms, forests or oceans.

‘Laundry list’ of grievances

The day’s first elected speaker, Coalition senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, said that during a recent drive to Coober Pedy, nothing angered her more “than the sight of wind turbines”.

“Nuclear energy is certainly the direction we need to go,” she said.

The United Australia party senator Ralph Babet, who was up next, called climate change science “a new religion”, and railed against the parliament building behind him, calling it “filthy, disgusting”.

“It is rotten to the core”.

As the day wore on, it also became apparent the movement had, at least in part, been corralled into what Tim Graham, an associate professor in digital media at the University of Queensland, called a “laundry list” of grievances.

One of the threads that runs from the pandemic’s anti-lockdown protests to some of the agitation against the Indigenous voice to parliament, and now to the Reckless Renewables rally, is anti-establishment sentiment, he suggests.

“Politicians see this is an opportunity to build their base, to expand their narratives,” he said. “Not only can they capture that audience … but also co-opt it and cultivate it.”

Canberra was certainly eager to capitalise on the energy. More than a dozen politicians from the Coalition, One Nation and the United Australia party – including some known climate sceptics – lined up to speak at the rally. One organiser said they had been more or less “swamped” by politicians eager to take the stage.

Community groups from up and down Australia’s east coast were bussed to the capital to be heard, and some organisers were at pains to emphasise they were not anti-climate change or anti-all renewables – only concerned with how projects were being rolled out.

Sandra Bourke, one of the event organisers and a member of the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association, told Guardian Australia the movement was a “very broad church”.

Bourke said she invited speakers from all sides of politics to speak.

“We wanted to get attention drawn to what we’re trying to say to the government … too fast, too costly, at terrible cost to the environment,” she said of a possible offshore wind energy zone in the Hunter.

“From our perspective … no one was hearing us,” she said. “You tell me how we should have got a voice for our community.”

However, the event was also promoted by key figures associated with the anti-lockdown movement, including 2022 Convoy to Canberra figurehead and former Qantas pilot Graham Hood, who has more than 143,000 followers on Facebook.

Craig Kelly and Babet of the UAP, which tried to woo this constituency during the 2022 federal election, railed against any kind of renewable energy target, linking it to well-worn populist themes.

“Net zero is a sell out to the globalists,” Kelly told the excitable audience. “It is a wealth transfer from the Australian nation to the Communist party of China.”

He later posted what appeared to be an AI-generated image on his X account of “Albaneseville: A NetZero [sic] community” – a tent city in a barren landscape, with wind turbines in the background.

Also in the crowd was Matthew Sheahan, executive director of the right-wing lobby group Advance Australia, which led the campaign against the Voice. The organisation, a longtime opponent of renewable energy targets, told subscribers via its email newsletter ​​it was “proud to back the rally”.

“We’re not going to stand for them wrecking our way of life,” it read.

Barnaby Joyce calls up an army

Imogen Richards, who researches environmental crises and far-right politics at Deakin University, said mainstream politicians at the event risked endorsing not only the issue for which they ostensibly gathered, but all of the associated commentary.

She suggested there was a political dynamic in Australia that attempts to exploit the anxiety some people feel about environmental and social challenges, and pit people against each other – the regions against urban areas, for example.

“[It’s] a coming together of all of these different forms of crisis, and people feeling powerless,” she said.

As Barnaby Joyce took to the stage, a man bellowed into the microphone: “We need someone like Donald Trump to save us. Watch what he does in America.”

Joyce told the crowd windfarm and solar projects were “dumps”, as he encouraged the crowd to think of themselves as an “army”.

The National party MP claimed a key role in unifying groups involved in the renewable energy backlash. Joyce told Guardian Australia he helped bring together some of the regional anti-renewable community organisations, promoting a group called the National Rational Energy Network (NREN) on Facebook to “coordinate national action” across Australia.

A farmer from the Central West, Grant Piper, is the chair of NREN, which organised the rally. He is concerned about the possible rollout of new transmission lines for renewable projects on his property, but he acknowledged a diverse range of interest in the event.

In a YouTube video shared in advance of the rally, Piper said he had been contacted by those concerned about other issues “whether it’s the Covid royal commission, whether it’s the war on cash”.

Piper extended a hand beyond immediate environmental concerns. “A war is one battle at a time,” he said in the clip. “Just like the Voice last year, maybe we’re prosecuting the renewable energy net zero ideology … Maybe if we crack that one, and I think we can, then the other issues will fall one by one as well.”

NREN’s treasurer is Ian Coxhead, the chair of the National party’s Tamworth branch, but Coxhead said that did not mean there was any formal link between NREN and the Nationals.

“Whilst I’m involved in both of those organisations, they are totally separate and treated as such by me,” he said.

In fact, the “reckless” renewables line has been floated by the Nationals for at least a year. In March 2023, the Nationals leader, David Littleproud, tested the line on Sky News. There is a “senseless and reckless race towards renewables”, he told Chris Kenny.

Joyce said it was now time for him and the party to step back. “It can’t be a Barnaby thing and it can’t be a Nationals thing,” he said. “I want it to be seen as an organic [rally] of people from all sides of politics.”

But having helped unleash a movement, there is no guarantee any political party can control where it heads.

“I’m hoping that they’ll get off their arse and they will actually do something,” Piper said. “I can see, as much as anyone else, that the Liberals and Nationals have sold us out over the years.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Renewable energy
  • Australian politics
  • Energy
  • National party
  • Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
  • One Nation
  • Craig Kelly
  • features
Reuse this content

Inquest into mysterious death provides glimpse into Byron Bay’s underbelly

Inquest into Jackson Stacker’s mysterious death provides glimpse into Byron Bay’s underbelly

Young traveller’s decomposed body was found in a field in 2021, as authorities struggle to establish if it was murder or suicide

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Main Beach at Byron Bay can be a beguiling place, attracting buskers, backpackers and beautiful people from all over the world.

But in the local courthouse this week, a different picture emerged: that of the underbelly of drugs and homelessness that exist beneath Byron’s glamorously chilled reputation. A world in which 25-year-old traveller Jackson Stacker had inadvertently found himself.

A three-day coroner’s inquest into Stacker’s brutal death in 2021 heard how he had set off from Melbourne after nearly finishing an apprenticeship as an electrician, and spent a year and a half on an extended road trip up and down the east coast. He was driving a Toyota Hiace van, given to him by his late grandfather.

Stacker’s mother, Sandra MacFarlane, told the court that in the 12 months prior to his death, “Jackson gave me the impression that he was on a journey of finding himself and enjoying the alternative, non-materialistic lifestyle that he had long been aspiring to live”.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Mia Kieis told the coroner she met Stacker at Pemstock, a commune on the Daintree river, in north Queensland. “You aren’t allowed to bring anything from Coles or commercial supermarkets, no plastics, only locally sourced food,” she said.

She was instantly drawn to Stacker. “He was a very charismatic, energetic and friendly person. He had great humour.”

At that stage, Kieis said, Stacker knew that psychedelics and marijuana “weren’t agreeable for him, they put him on edge”. But the court would hear that drugs were prevalent during his later time in Byron.

Stranded in New South Wales

Stacker was on his way back to Queensland in July 2021, when the state’s borders closed, leaving him caught in northern NSW.

“He was pretty pissed,” his friend John Van Winegarden told the inquest. “He couldn’t do what he wanted to do. He wanted to go to a music festival in Queensland and to go to Cairns.”

Calan Whitehead, also known as Kilarney, said he had been sleeping rough in the sand dunes when he first met Stacker at the Main Beach car park, a place where drug deals were done. They would smoke weed together, Whitehead told the court, and listen to music.

“He was a really cool guy, really chilled, loved life. He had awesome taste in music, girls flocked to him.” The “stoner crew”, he told the inquest “were always around his van”.

Stacker was a “legend”, Whitehead said, because he let him sleep in the van. “[My bed] was on a bench seat in the front of the van with my legs sticking out the window.”

MacFarlane told the inquest she spoke to her son on 22 July 2021, the last day he was seen alive.

“Everything seemed fine,” she said. “He was always his usual self when we spoke.” Ten days later, when she called him about a parking fine and he didn’t respond, she started to get anxious. “I put some money in his bank account with the online reference of ‘Please call Mum!’”

Exposed to the elements

To Francis Stanek, an abandoned van in a rest stop meant one thing: “accommodation.” Stanek, who was travelling in his own van, told the inquest he had taken a destitute man, a “desperado” called Matty, to Stacker’s van, which he’d found parked at a rest stop at Sleepy Hollow, 40km north of Byron.

The keys were in the ignition, he said, and there was a smell of musty clothes. “It was a total mess, it looked like it had been tossed over,” he told the inquest.

Stanek told the court Matty went through the van and found a digital camera, which he sold for $50 to buy marijuana.

They didn’t find any drugs in the van, Stanek said, but they did find a driver licence and the car’s registration papers. “I started getting a gut feeling. Who would leave their driver’s licence there?”

That same day, on 23 August, a woman in Murwillumbah phoned Stacker’s father, Ian, whose number was on the van’s registration papers. She said she had been offered the van for sale.

Two days later police found Stacker’s body under a tree in a field, near where the van was parked.

Exposed to the elements for about a month, the remains were skeletal, and scattered. Stacker’s scalp and dreadlocks were 14 metres from the body, he was missing teeth, his boots were further away.

Lying face down, Stacker had been wearing his faux fur coat; a hunting knife had gone through his chest “up to the hilt”, forensic pathologist Prof Noel Woodford told the inquest.

Visiting the scene, Stacker’s mother later found one of his teeth under a leaf, the inquest heard. The case was reclassified as suspicious and teeth and three small finger bones were found during a police line search.

With Stacker’s body were two cigarette lighters, matches, a container of gear oil and duct tape, a beanie and a vape.

Stacker’s phone, to which he was “wedded”, has never been found. But it pinged in Grafton on 2 August, the inquest heard, “after what appears to be the most likely date of death”, Louise Beange, barrister assisting the family, told the court.

Self-inflicted or work of assailant?

The coroner heard two police officers linked to the early investigations were on extended sick leave and a third has left the force. None were available to comment.

The inquest heard that no DNA was taken from the vape or oil can; the rest stop was not initially searched and the people closely associated with Stacker were not questioned. Later DNA testing on the knife was “unsuccessful.”

Det Sgt Donna Tutt took over the case last year.

Asked by counsel assisting the coroner, Kirsten Edwards SC, if suicide was the “dominant theory at the start of the investigation”, Tutt said she “can’t comment” on what the officer in charge at that time “was thinking”.

In his report, Woodford stated that due to the decomposition of the body, and lack of soft tissue “it is not possible to say definitely if the knife wound was self-inflicted or by an assailant. A stab wound to the chest is equally consistent with homicide and suicide. I’ve seen in my professional career lots of episodes of or instances of self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest.”

But he told the court, “the knife was used with considerable force, it is not trivial force. Could these wounds have been inflicted by an assailant? The short answer based on the pathology is yes”.

The court heard the fact parts of Stacker’s body were separated was not necessarily evidence of foul play.

Edwards told the inquest that Woodford had indicated in his report that, “in a state of decomposition, very little force would be required to separate the skull from the other remains.” She noted that in his report he “had experience with a badger moving a mandible five metres away from remains”.

Decomposition, Woodford said, revolves “around softening of tissues, the ligaments, the muscles that hold the bone in place”. “That bone has the potential to be moved. Whether or not it is a carnivore or inadvertently knocked by a herbivore like a cow or a sheep I don’t have a view.”

There had been 33 cows in the paddock where Stacker died.

Whitehead told the inquest that in his last days Stacker had been “depressed and upset”. He had been to a “doof party” at Casino and taken LSD. “He was just staring into the fire. At five or six in the morning he was crying. He was really upset.”

On the last day he saw Stacker, Whitehead told the court, he had “let out this enormous scream throughout the car park” and thrown a bicycle down the rocks to the sea. “This little kid kept riding around … crashing into people’s cars and scratching them.”

He said Stacker was wiping away tears as he drove away from the car park for the last time.

Whitehead sent him a message “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”, and sent a video of a dancing skeleton, but made no further attempt to contact him. “I didn’t have a phone for a while, I didn’t have his number. I was drinking pretty heavily,” he told the court.

When Stacker’s remains arrived home, his mother sat and talked to him, writing a poem that she tearfully read out in court. After seeing footage of his life, the coroner Theresa O’Sullivan was moved to remark, “he was a beautiful boy”.

The inquest continues, with the coroner still accepting submissions.

Explore more on these topics

  • New South Wales
  • Byron Bay
  • features
Reuse this content

Remains of 30 people found in Denver after ex-funeral home owner evicted

Remains of 30 people found in Denver after ex-funeral home owner evicted

Body of woman, 63, also found at house as police issue warrant for Miles Harford, 33, who owned funeral home that closed in 2022

The body of a woman who died in 2022 and the cremated remains of about 30 people were found at a rental house in Denver after the eviction of a former funeral home owner, Denver police said on Friday.

A warrant was issued for Miles Harford, 33, who owned Apollo Funeral and Cremation Service in Littleton, which has been closed since September 2022. The expected charges include abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate and theft of the money paid for the cremation.

Police have been in contact with him, officials said.

The body and cremains were found on 6 February by someone who was cleaning out the house after Harford was evicted, police said.

The body of a 63-year-old woman was found in a hearse on the property. Investigators contacted her family and learned they had been provided what they believed were the woman’s cremains, which have been turned over to the office of the medical examiner.

The other cremains found on the property appear to have been professionally cremated, officials said. Investigators are checking labels on the cremains and state databases in an effort to return them to family members. DNA testing cannot be used, officials said.

The case is not related to one in which nearly 200 decomposing bodies were found in a funeral home in Penrose, Colorado, last October. The owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home – Jon and Carie Hallford, face hundreds of felony charges.

Colorado has some of the weakest rules in the nation with no routine inspections or qualification requirements for funeral home operators.

Explore more on these topics

  • Denver
  • Colorado
  • US crime
  • news
Reuse this content

Remains of 30 people found in Denver after ex-funeral home owner evicted

Remains of 30 people found in Denver after ex-funeral home owner evicted

Body of woman, 63, also found at house as police issue warrant for Miles Harford, 33, who owned funeral home that closed in 2022

The body of a woman who died in 2022 and the cremated remains of about 30 people were found at a rental house in Denver after the eviction of a former funeral home owner, Denver police said on Friday.

A warrant was issued for Miles Harford, 33, who owned Apollo Funeral and Cremation Service in Littleton, which has been closed since September 2022. The expected charges include abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate and theft of the money paid for the cremation.

Police have been in contact with him, officials said.

The body and cremains were found on 6 February by someone who was cleaning out the house after Harford was evicted, police said.

The body of a 63-year-old woman was found in a hearse on the property. Investigators contacted her family and learned they had been provided what they believed were the woman’s cremains, which have been turned over to the office of the medical examiner.

The other cremains found on the property appear to have been professionally cremated, officials said. Investigators are checking labels on the cremains and state databases in an effort to return them to family members. DNA testing cannot be used, officials said.

The case is not related to one in which nearly 200 decomposing bodies were found in a funeral home in Penrose, Colorado, last October. The owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home – Jon and Carie Hallford, face hundreds of felony charges.

Colorado has some of the weakest rules in the nation with no routine inspections or qualification requirements for funeral home operators.

Explore more on these topics

  • Denver
  • Colorado
  • US crime
  • news
Reuse this content

Participants in ayahuasca ceremony allegedly told not to talk, NSW inquest hears

Participants at retreat where man died after ayahuasca ceremony allegedly told not to talk, NSW inquest hears

Jarrad Antonovich died after drinking plant-based psychedelic and having frog toxin extract ‘kambo’ dabbed into burns

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The ceremonial leader of a spiritual retreat in northern New South Wales at which a man died after drinking ayahuasca may have told witnesses not to talk about the fatal ceremony, a coroner has heard.

The second sitting of the inquest into the death of Jarrad Antonovich – who died after drinking the plant-based psychedelic and having the frog toxin extract “kambo” dabbed into burns in his skin – held its second hearing on Friday.

Among the witnesses who appeared on day two was Elissa McAuliffe, a director of Arcoora – the venue near Kyogle at which the retreat was held. McAuliffe also participated in the ayahuasca ceremony led by Soulore “Lore” Solaris during which Antonovich died on the night of 16 October 2021.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

McAuliffe told the inquest there had been a gathering of participants at the retreat the day after the 46-year-old died.

“The gathering was singing, primarily, because Jarrad had passed away, so it was prayers and, yeah, Lore may have mentioned something about, I think he was concerned about gossip and things in the community, so he may have suggested that people just, you know, don’t talk about it,” she said.

Asked by counsel assisting the crown, Peggy Dwyer SC, if Solaris gave any advice about not talking to the police, McAuliffe said: “Not that I recall, no.”

Another participant at the retreat told police that a “guardian” – as members of Solaris’s inner circle were known – did instruct those gathered in the hours after Antonovich’s death not to speak with authorities.

Dwyer read Garth Brewin’s police statement given in November 2023 to the Byron Bay court on Friday while he appeared via video link.

“She [the guardian] said: ‘The police and the ambulance are coming, but we should keep this to ourselves, because otherwise it might damage the community or damage the good work we’re doing here so, you know, leave it to us, we will talk to the authorities and you guys just look after yourselves with the medicine’,” Brewin’s statement said.

“I’m pretty sure that Lore also said something along those lines,” the statement continued. “I can’t remember if he used the words ‘family’ or ‘community’ – I think it might have been family – but ‘let’s, you know, protect our family, we don’t want to damage this good work of ayahuasca with being here’.”

Solaris’s barrister, Alex Radojev, also appearing via video link, contended his client never said that.

Earlier, Brewin had testified that he was trying to help Antonovich breathe in the hours after he had taken part in a kambo ceremony but prior to him drinking ayahuasca. Extremely concerned by Antonovich’s restricted breathing – which he demonstrated for the court in a chilling reenactment – Brewin said he was “on the verge of calling an ambulance”.

“I would have basically forced him to have medical attention,” Brewin told the coroner.

However, he did not do so after seeing Solaris speak to Antonovich and hearing the ceremonial leader suggest he just have a “little cup” of ayahuasca, his police statement attested.

Other witnesses confessed to a reluctance in talking to police about the circumstances of Antonovich’s death – given the consumption of ayahuasca had been illegal for some time and “kambo” banned by the Therapeutic Goods Administration days prior.

Several witnesses at Friday’s hearing responded to claims heard at the first sitting of the inquest that another participant was pressured to keep quiet about Antonovich’s death.

Bella Gardner told the inquest last May that a member of Solaris’s inner circle and ceremonial guardian, Pedro Cruz-Rodriguez, had told her to “be quiet” and that “we are not going to speak of this ever again” when she raised her concerns about Antonovich’s death a month after the fatal retreat.

In response to Dwyer’s questions on Friday, the Brazilian man, appearing via video link, denied using those words. He accepted the pair “probably” discussed Antonovich the night Gardner stayed at his house, given how recent and raw his death was, but that he could not recall the conversation.

“No, I don’t remember. I remember conversations that another group came to talk to me about her going to an ayahuasca ceremony two weeks after [Antonovich’s] passing and she went into this group and start[ed] telling everyone about what happened and how he died and why he died,” Cruz-Rodriguez said.

“Which is a lie because we are still trying to understand how he passed.”

The coroner has heard from medical experts that Antonovich died from a perforated oesophagus. The inquest continues.

Explore more on these topics

  • New South Wales
  • Health
  • Alternative medicine
  • Drugs
  • news
Reuse this content

Mark Butler accuses lobby of targeting children after industry ad campaign against ban

Health minister accuses vaping lobby of targeting children after industry ad campaign against ban

Industry claims vapes should be regulated like alcohol but Mark Butler says companies want to create a ‘new generation addicted to nicotine’

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A vaping lobby group with links to tobacco companies is running ads in Australian newspapers calling for the government to abandon its vaping reforms, in a campaign ministers and experts say is misdirecting the public.

A campaign called Bust the Black Market ran full page advertisements in The Australian and the Daily Telegraph this week calling for e-cigarettes to be regulated “like tobacco and alcohol”.

The ads were authorised by Brian Marlow, the executive director of the Australian Taxpayers Alliance, which has also been behind the Legalise Vaping Australia initiative.

The alliance does not disclose its funders, but has admitted to receiving social media advice from British American Tobacco and in 2021 reportedly partnered with a lobby group funded by Philip Morris International to try to overturn nicotine e-cigarette laws in Australia.

The health minister, Mark Butler, said “the only groups who want to regulate and sell vaping products are those who profit once kids get hooked on nicotine – Big Tobacco and tobacco retailers”.

“Vape shops are deliberately setting up down the road from schools – it’s an industry targeting their product to kids,” Butler said. “That’s why we are taking on Big Tobacco so they can’t continue to get a new generation addicted to nicotine.”

The advertisements claim the vaping reforms will only “benefit the criminals already selling dangerous, unregulated vaping products” and claim “there is a better way. Strictly regulate vapes like tobacco and alcohol”.

Prof Becky Freeman, a tobacco control expert at the University of Sydney, said “this is the same group that has been fighting vaping regulations for the past few years, and they’re very opposed to any sort of regulation of vaping products that doesn’t suit a retail commercial model”.

“They misdirect people in their campaign in making it seem like vaping is going to be banned, that there’ll be no way to get these products. And actually we are regulating vaping products just like they call for in their campaign.

“They’re going to be regulated to the extent that they will only be available in pharmacies, to adults who will benefit from them to quit smoking,” Freeman said.

A ban on the importation of disposable single-use vapes came into effect on 1 January and further legislation planned for later this year will prevent their sale without a prescription.

On its website the campaign calls for retailers to be forced to have a licence to sell vapes. Freeman said the government’s regulation “is the ultimate form of licensing: the only retail outlet they’ll be available in is a pharmacy. It’ll be highly controlled. Right now, where we have non nicotine vapes that are legally available in all kinds of shops is just not working.

“These retailers are not responsible to be able to handle these products. They’re selling them to children, they’re lying about what’s in them, and the model’s simply not working.”

The campaign’s key messages on their website are that the government’s reforms will drive a black market, enforcement will fail, and that it hasn’t worked in any other country.

The argument that reforms will fuel the black market were rejected by health experts in a November Senate hearing.

Freeman said: “The black market right now is a broad daylight market … they’re being openly sold in defiance of the law in shops because it’s so impossible to enforce.”

The government’s reforms would help crack down on illegal sales because there would be “no more back and forth about nicotine vapes versus non-nicotine”, she said.

“We only have phase one of the government’s plan in place so far, which is turning off the tap of importation, we need this retail sales ban to really see these laws become effective and to make enforcement possible.

“The third key message here, it hasn’t worked in any other country … No other country has this model in place.

“If you look at other countries that have allowed nicotine vaping products as a consumer good [including the UK, New Zealand, US and Canada], their youth vaping rates are even higher than they are in Australia,” Freeman said.

“So for Australia to take a much more progressive, firmer stance on these products, and to make them only available in pharmacies, the rest of the world is going to be looking to us to see if this works.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Vaping
  • Health
  • Mark Butler
  • Tobacco industry
  • news
Reuse this content

Labour leader paid £99,400 in UK tax on £404,000 of earnings, party reveals

Keir Starmer paid £99,400 in UK tax on £404,000 of earnings, Labour reveals

Details about leader’s finances for 2022-23 come after Rishi Sunak revealed he paid more than £508,000 of tax on £2.2m plus

Keir Starmer paid £99,431 in UK tax on earnings of £404,030 last year, according to a summary released by the Labour party.

The Labour leader’s tax summary for 2022-23 was published a week after Rishi Sunak’s, which revealed the prime minister paid more than £508,208 in UK tax last year on earnings of just over £2.2m.

Starmer earned £128,291 from his salaries as an MP and leader of the opposition, and paid £44,308 in income tax in 2022-23.

He also paid £52,688 in capital gains tax on earnings of £275,739 from the sale of a field in December 2022.

The field was partly owned by himself and his father’s estate. It was previously reported that Starmer had sold a plot of land he had bought in the 1990s for his parents, who used it to care for neglected donkeys.

Similarly to Sunak, Starmer published “a summary” of his UK taxable income, capital gains and tax paid over the last tax year as reported to HMRC, prepared by chartered accountants.

The one-page document showed that he earned £79,098 as an MP, with an added salary of £49,193 for his role as leader of the opposition.

Sunak’s tax summary, published by Downing Street, showed that he paid £163,364 in tax on a total income of £432,884. He also paid £359,240 in tax on about £1.8m in capital gains from a US-based investment fund.

The prime minister first published his tax return in 2023, showing he had made nearly £5m over the previous three years due mostly to his US investment fund income. Sunak’s personal wealth and his links to the US have been sensitive issues for him.

Explore more on these topics

  • Keir Starmer
  • Tax
  • Rishi Sunak
  • Labour
  • news
Reuse this content

Two juveniles charged in connection to parade shooting

Two juveniles charged in connection to Kansas City Chiefs parade shooting

Officials say juveniles are being detained ‘on gun-related and resisting arrest charges’ after a woman was killed and 22 injured

Two juveniles have been charged with crimes connected to the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl rally, authorities said on Friday.

A news release from the Jackson county family court said the juveniles are being detained in the county’s juvenile detention center “on gun-related and resisting arrest charges”. The release said “additional charges are expected in the future as the investigation by the Kansas City Police Department continues”.

No further information was released.

A mother of two was killed and 22 people were injured by gunfire on Wednesday afternoon, when shots erupted amid the throng of fans gathered at a rally outside Union Station after a parade through the city. The police chief, Stacey Graves, said on Thursday that the victims ranged from ages of eight to 47, with half of them under 16.

Police initially detained three juveniles but released one who they determined was not involved in the shooting. Police are looking for others who may have been involved and are calling for witnesses, victims and people with cellphone video of the violence to call a dedicated hotline.

The shooting outside Union Station occurred despite the presence of more than 800 police officers who were in the building and surrounding area, including on top of nearby structures, said the mayor, Quinton Lucas, who attended with his wife and mother and ran for safety when the shots were fired. But he does not expect to cancel the upcoming St Patrick’s Day parade.

“We have parades all the time. I don’t think they’ll end. Certainly we recognized the public safety challenges and issues that relate to them,” Lucas said.

Wednesday’s celebration was the third such parade since 2020, and the others had no violence. People packed the parade route, with fans climbing trees and street poles for a better view. Players rolled through on double-decker buses as DJs and drummers heralded their arrival.

The rally had just ended and music was still blaring when the shots began. Many people initially thought they were hearing fireworks. Some in the crowd hit the ground while others leapt over barriers and sprinted, some carrying children in their arms.

Eventually stunned rally-goers – many in tears – gathered their belongings, trying to figure out how to get home. Strangers comforted each other as police put up crime scene tape where moments earlier there had been a joyous celebration.

The police chief said 1 million people probably attended the parade, which occurred in a city of about 470,000 people and a metropolitan area of about 2 million, but stressed that the violence was carried out by just a handful of people.

“The law enforcement response was exemplary. Those in attendance also responded,” Graves added.

Among them was Trey Filter, who was walking to the car with his family when he heard yells of “get him”.

Filter, 40, who lives outside Wichita, Kansas, saw a fleeing person, prompting him and another bystander to try to tackle him. Filter eventually jumped on top of the person.

“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” the owner of an asphalt and concrete company recalled. “We was like, ‘We got him.’ I’ll always remember that. And then they started screaming, ‘There’s a gun!’”

The gun fell near his wife, Casey Filter, who picked it up. At that point the fleeing person was under a dogpile about 10ft (three meters) away.

Police did not identify Filter as a man who intervened or specifically say whether the person he tackled was a suspect.

Hank Hunter, a Kansas high school sophomore, said he heard shots in the distance while watching the rally with a friend. Initially, they did not know what it was, but then, “like a chain reaction”, people started hitting the ground.

They ran to jump over a barricade, and his friend slammed his head into the concrete, Hunter said. A security guard ushered his friend into Union Station, which was closed to the general public, as the Chiefs players and coaches prepared to leave on buses. There, the coach Andy Reid consoled his friend and “just tried to comfort him and calm him down”.

The woman who was killed was identified by radio station KKFI-FM as Lisa Lopez-Galvan, host of Taste of Tejano.

Lopez-Galvan, whose DJ name was “Lisa G”, was an extrovert and devoted mother from a prominent Latino family in the area, said Rosa Izurieta and Martha Ramirez, two childhood friends who worked with her at a staffing company.

Taylor Swift, who is dating the Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, donated $100,000 to Lopez-Galvan’s family through GoFundMe campaigns.

Kansas City has long struggled with gun violence, and in 2020 it was among nine cities targeted by the US justice department in an effort to crack down on violent crime. In 2023, the city matched a record with 182 homicides, most of which involved guns.

Lucas has joined with mayors across the country in calling for new laws to reduce gun violence, including mandating universal background checks.

Explore more on these topics

  • Missouri
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Super Bowl
  • Gun crime
  • news
Reuse this content