Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane’

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Image copyright AP The couple were in Australia while Mr Depp filmed the fifth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise

A date has now been set for Johnny Depp’s wife Amber Heard to face a court trial in Australia for allegedly smuggling her two dogs into the country.

The case, which has been amusingly dubbed the “War On Terrier”, will be heard on 18 April in Queensland.

The actress is facing two counts of knowingly importing a prohibited product in breach of the Quarantine Act. A court official has confirmed that Heard is required to appear at the hearing.

Heard came under fire for failing to declare Pistol and Boo, the couple’s Yorkshire terriers, to authorities on their arrival in Brisbane in April. Under strict Australian laws designed to keep disease at bay in the ecologically diverse but fragile country, dogs entering from the US must be declared and have to spend 10 days in quarantine.

The case sparked global attention after the terriers were threatened with death by Australia’s Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, unless they went “back to the United States”.

Mr Joyce – who is known for his blunt and populist style – said he did not care if Depp had been voted the “sexiest man alive”, he still had to adhere to quarantine rules.The animals, which had allegedly travelled by private jet to Queensland, where Depp was filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, were quickly whisked out of the country as the story hit the headlines.

We don't imagine Ms Heard would have any difficulty fitting in at Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre at Wacol, Brisbane.

We don’t imagine Ms Heard would have any difficulty fitting in at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre at Wacol, Brisbane.

In July she was charged with two counts of illegally importing the dogs into Australia and one count of producing a false document. Penalties range from a hefty fine to more than 10 years in prison.

An earlier hearing set for September was adjourned.

After the incident in May, Heard vowed never to return to Australia, although reports earlier this month said she “respected Australia’s laws” and was looking forward to “attending the hearing of these matters”.

Twelve witnesses are listed to give evidence but it is not known whether Depp is one of them.

It would be easy to laugh at the nonsenical overtones of the matter, but that is to mask what is, for Australians, considered a very important issue. Struggling to this day with the deletrious effects of innumerable species of flora and fauna introduced by well-meaning but misguided predecessors, Australian society is near-fanatical about protecting its eco-system and thus its quarantine procedures.

Until the advent of better air filtration systems on modern jetliners, for example, arriving in Australia by plane was always accompanied by a cabin attendant walking through the plane from rear to front spraying the entire passenger complement with insecticide. Bins at Australian airports are regularly filled with tourist trinkets made of wood, skins or other bio-hazardous items.

If she’s guilty – and we would never assume or pre-judge such a matter before the courts – then in our opinion, Miss Heard would do well to “cop it sweet” as Aussies say, and cheerfully cough up whatever fine will (probably) be levied, accompanied by a fulsome apology. Any more whingeing and that other famed Aussie characteristic – cutting down the tall poppy – will rapidly be evidenced.

 

In a development that will shock Australians already anxious about the possibility of home-grown jihadists launching terror attacks on home soil, explosives similar to those used in the 7/7 London tube bombings and maps possibly targeting two NSW locations have been uncovered in a ­suburban home.

The media are reporting that one map ­contained the words “George St’’ and “uniform’’, believed to refer to a uniform shop on the Sydney street near Central Station.

The second map had references to “brothel’’, “bridge’’ and “grave’’, believed to be a site in Newcastle.

Australian Federal Police have joined the investigation.

Daniel Fing / Picture: Channel 9

Daniel Fing / Picture: Channel 9

Police discovered the maps while raiding property in Pullenvale, north of Brisbane, last week which was being rented by NSW man Daniel Fing, 30, who was taken into custody.

The haul of explosives included 22 litres of liquid explosive material TATP, (triacetone triperoxide peroxyacetone) which is favoured by ­terrorists for suicide attacks as it contains no nitrogen and is therefore undetectable by searches looking for nitrogen traces, and which was used in the ­London attacks because it can create a military grade explosive. Given the extreme instability of the material, the threat to the local area of accidental detonation, let alone any deliberate attempt to set off a terrorist explosion, must have been very significant.

“It’s an extreme explosive. It’s made from very common household ingredients,” explosives expert Dr James Blinco from the QUT School of Chemistry in Brisbane said.

Astonishingly – and especially given the likelihood of any old crazies and ratbags only loosely-connected to any formal terrorist group deciding to perform some unthinkable act to achieve their five minutes of infamy – the recipe for TATP is freely available on the Internet, including a YouTube video which demonstrates how to make the explosive.

We have one simple question to ask Googe, YouTube, and the rest.

Why?

Especially, as a quick Google search reveals, Mr Fing has previous, bombing a love-rivals car with the very same explosive back in 2006, a crime for which he was sentenced to four years in jail.

Surely we should be seeking to reduce the free availability of information about explosive manufacture, which no one could possibly need for legal purposes? We are normally very loathe to restrict or censor information, but this one would seem to be a no-brainer, especially in today’s troubled world.

We are also concerned about the fact that this haul seems to have been discovered by happy accident. The Brisbane Times reports that a real estate agent unwittingly stumbled across other suspicious items on Wednesday night, leading to officers discovering the explosives.

In 2011, Mr Fing survived a drive-by shooting when a gunman allegedly opened fire at his home in Belmont, NSW. The man charged with Mr Fing’s attempted murder was later found not guilty. Police have not said if they know the whereabouts of a woman who was living at the Pullenvale house with Mr Fing. He is currently facing charges dating from 2012 of wounding, assault, weapon and drug possession and is due to face a NSW court on August 27.

Sheesh.

This is not a "career choice".

This is not a “career choice”.

 

I find it astounding that the social support system in Australia, surely one of the wealthiest countries in the world, can spawn a report like this one from AAP.

The progress of  a society is measured by how it protects those who are weakest amongst its citizens, not by how it builds the wealth of its middle class or by protecting the obscene riches of the already uber-wealthy. This story proves categorically that there is no “trickle down”  effect from the rich to the poor, no matter how right wing economists choose to spin things.

I believe, as a social and moral principle, that people should have the right to work in the sex industry if they wish, suitably safe and protected from violence and disease, and free from fear of prosecution. However my attitude to it is the same as abortion; I want it to be safe, legal, and as rare as possible.

To see single mothers forced into this sort of work simply to make ends meet is an indictment of our Labor Government – it would be an indictment of any government – but to see this happening while we piss away endless millions of a bloated bureaucracy, inefficient “major projects”, and the pursuit of mythical paper “surpluses”, is a disgrace.

To see it under a government headed by a feminist woman? Doubly so. For shame, PM Gillard, for shame.

It’s all very well to spew out rhetoric about misogyny and anti-female attitudes in our Parliament – and I am no fan of Tony Abbott – but Wellthisiswhatithink would be much more impressed if you followed up your little Question Time tirades with real on-the-ground action to prevent this sort of social scandal from blighting our national image, and these family’s lives.

Single mums turn to brothels and stripping
By Lisa Martin, AAP

Some single mothers hit by recent welfare cuts to parenting payments have turned to prostitution and strip clubs in order to keep a roof over their family’s head.

The payment cuts came in at the start of 2013 and affect 84,000 single parents, mostly mothers who received parenting payments.

The majority have been shifted onto the Newstart unemployment allowance when their youngest child turns eight.

More than 60,000 single parents now receive between $60 to $100 a week less under entitlement changes.

While the federal budget will look $728 million better over four years and make the system more sustainable, welfare groups have been concerned families will fall into poverty.

A spokeswoman from a Brisbane brothel told AAP there had been “influx” in applications from single mothers looking for work since the welfare changes came through.

She said there had been about 20 applications.

“They’re looking for extra cash to help cope following the cuts and Christmas and back to school,” said the spokeswoman, who did not want to be identified.

Women working at this brothel could make up to $1000 during an eight hour shift, seeing three to five clients, she said.

A spokeswoman from an inner-city Melbourne brothel said she knew of some single mothers, affected by the cuts, applying for jobs in strip clubs.

“They find pole dancing is a bit more palatable,” she said.

“It’s an easier step compared to going all the way with sex work.”

A woman from a St Kilda brothel said she had also noticed a huge increase in single mothers seeking sex work.

“It’s sad. They’re doing it to pay their rent,” she said, but declined to give her name.

The offices of Families Minister Jenny Macklin, Human Services Minister Kim Carr, and Minister for Women Julie Collins all refused to comment, passing inquiries on to Employment Minister Bill Shorten.

Mr Shorten’s spokesman, however, said the minister was on leave and would not comment.

Single Parents Action Group spokeswoman Katrina Rae said she was not surprised women in her position were turning to sex work and stripping to pay the bills.

“I wouldn’t personally, but you would do anything to feed your family,” she said.

Ms Rae, a Sydney mother of four teenagers, said she had done her family budget on Sunday morning and was $287 behind for the next fortnight.

“I don’t have breakfast or lunch. If there’s not enough food for dinner I’ll have toast so the kids can eat,” she said.

She said as a victim of domestic violence she didn’t choose to be a single parent.

Ms Rae works a full-time job in insurance, commutes 22 hours a week for work, and only manages to stay $25 above the poverty line each week.

Adelaide single mother Samantha Seymour said a woman she knows had spoken to a male staffer at Centrelink about her desperate situation.

“She told him `What am I supposed to do? Turn to prostitution?’ and he replied `You have to do what you have to do,” Ms Seymour told AAP.

St Vincent de Paul chief executive officer John Falzon said the reports were sadly not surprising.

“This is clearly unravelling as a poor policy decision and a cruel and unnecessarily punitive decision,” he said.

“It’s a disgrace.”

Single mothers are planning rallies in all major cities on February 5th when parliament returns.

A spokeswoman for acting Employment Minister Kate Ellis told AAP anyone experiencing financial difficulties should contact Centrelink to discuss their personal circumstances.