Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Australia/Oceania

Newsline: China says Australia spying on embassy

The Australian government has been spying on China’s embassy in the country and “harassing” Chinese people to provide intelligence, an influential state-run newspaper said on Thursday, citing a security source. China and Australia have close business and economic ties, but Beijing is deeply suspicious of Canberra’s defense relationship with Washington. Quoting an unidentified official with “China’s national security department”, the Global Times tabloid said the Australian government was spying on China and monitoring Chinese people in Australia. “The national security department staffer said Australia’s agents in disguise would get close to Chinese people working or living overseas to collect information or even encourage them to subvert China,” the report said. “Meanwhile, in the name of avoiding ‘Chinese spy threats’, Australian intelligence operatives are closely monitoring Chinese people and the Chinese Embassy in Australia,” it said. The report said “many” Chinese people had been interviewed or harassed and were being required to give information about Chinese communities and the Chinese embassy. “Some of the Chinese people were even sent back to China to gather information,” it said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-australia-idUSKBN19K05B?il=0

Newsline: Israel returns ambassador to New Zealand, ending diplomatic rift

Israel said its ambassador to New Zealand will return to his post, ending a six-month rift in relations over a United Nations resolution against Israeli settlements on occupied territory which Palestinians seek for a state. Israel recalled the ambassador in December after New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement activity. New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the two leaders spoke on the phone earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michal Maayan said in a statement. “I regret the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing Resolution 2344 at the Security Council,” English wrote, according to the Foreign Ministry statement. On June 4 Israel said it was returning its ambassador to Senegal, after recalling him over the U.N. Security Council resolution. Israel does not have diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.

http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/israel-returns-ambassador-new-zealand-ending-diplomatic-rift

Newsline: Australian husband of diplomat kept Ethiopian girl as sex slave

Four maids were abused by Russell Howard, the Australian husband of US diplomat Linda Howard, who kept an Ethiopian girl as a virtual prisoner and sex slave. The Australian has exclusively revealed that as well as keeping the girl as his sex slave while living with his wife on a diplomatic posting in Tokyo, he also abused three further maids. Russell Howard, who died in 2012 following a US Department of Justice investigation into the Ethiopian maid, abused other women in Yemen. New evidence uncovered by the a US State Department investigation claims this happened while Linda Howard was on a posting in the Middle Eastern country. Linda Howard has since moved to Victoria, where she lives in the Melbourne suburb of Docklands.

http://www.news.com.au/national/australian-husband-of-diplomat-kept-ethiopian-girl-as-sex-slave-and-abused-four-maids/news-story/ddc186d888b1ced16d7469f97fe16590

Newsline: US, UK, Australia Embassy warn citizens after Philippines attack

The US, UK and Australian governments issued separate travel advisories on Friday, June 2, urging their citizens to exercise caution following the attack that left 37 people dead at Resorts World Manila. A gunman stormed the Resorts World Manila and torched gambling tables in the crowded area on Friday before dawn, June 2. Aside from 37 fatalities, dozens were injured. The resort hotel is located in Newport City, opposite the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City. In a statement posted on its website, the US Embassy advised American citizens to “exercise caution and review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.” The United Kingdom, meanwhile, advised its citizens to “avoid the area and follow the advice of local authorities.” British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said in his tweet that there were no Britons harmed in the incident.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2017/06/02/us-uk-australia-warn-citizens-after-resorts-world-attack-545284

Newsline: New Zealand Embassy in Washington covered $7000 booze bill for Trump bash

Taxpayers forked out more than $7000 on alcohol for guests at a glitzy party in Washington celebrating US President Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to official documents, the total bill topped $80,000 ($US58,247). New Zealand spent $750 on customised napkins for the Inauguration Gala on 17 January in Washington. Among the costs were $690 ($US478) on VIP pins, $750 ($US520) on customised napkins and $1780 ($US1235) to hire foliage. More than 320 people attended the four-hour gala on 17 January, including actors, business people and government figures, hosted by New Zealand ambassador Tim Groser. Alcohol cost less than 10 percent of the total budget at slightly more than $7000 ($US4890). The food bill topped $8240 ($US5720) and about $1800 ($US1250) was spent on valet parking. The largest cost by far was $23,670 ($US16,445) to hire furniture, followed by $8520 ($US5917) for the marquee. The total bill was covered by the New Zealand Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s public diplomacy fund. Funding came from within MFAT’s baseline budget and met standard approval criteria, the ministry said. “The event was considered as a constituency building activity to position New Zealand’s interests effectively with the new US administration and Congress.” The embassy noted it had received “positive feedback” from guests. It also touted the “key US influencers” in attendance, including Mr Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and New Zealand-born assistant Chris Liddell. More than 320 people attended the gala in Washington, hosted by NZ ambassador Tim Groser.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/329533/$7000-booze-bill-for-nz%27s-trump-bash

Newsline: Former workers accuse Spain’s embassy in Australia of “betrayal”

A former Canberra embassy worker has spoken of her “betrayal” by her former employers, the Spanish government, which is accused of refusing to hand over years worth of superannuation payments. Another former worker for the Spanish government in Australia says she has been left disabled by cancer but without vital disability cover because of the consulate’s failure to pay her super. The two women are now taking legal action against their former employer, looking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid super, interest and penalties. But the Spanish government has defended itself, claiming its two former employees were covered by their home country’s social welfare system during the periods in question and their current claim was an attempt to “double-dip”. Canberra grandmother Esperanza Poveda had two stints as a secretary at the embassy of Spain in Canberra between 1986 and 1998, and from 2004 until 2014. In 2012, she secured an order from the ATO for the embassy to pay her unpaid super for the second period she worked there, but she says her former bosses refused to pay her for her first stint. Ms Poveda is claiming damages of $68,000, which includes $32,000 in unpaid superannuation for 1992-1998 and penalty interest. Melbourne woman Miren Itziar Urbieta worked at Spain’s consulate in the Victorian capital for 18 years until 2011 and says she was not any paid any superannuation at all. According to her lawyers, the consulate’s failure to pay her superannuation, left her ineligible for total and permanent disability cover through her VicSuper fund and she is battling tonsil cancer which has left her permanently disabled since 2015. Ms Urbieta is seeking damages of $131,000 including $54,000 in unpaid superannuation, $62,000 in penalty interest, and $15,000 for the TPD benefit that she would have been entitled to if super payments had been made into her VicSuper account. But a spokesman for the Spanish embassy indicated it would be defending the claims, saying the women were covered by the Spanish social security system during the period in question and were therefore not entitled to payments under the Australian system.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/spanish-embassy-workers-allege-betrayal-over-unpaid-superannuation-20170404-gvda1q.html

Newsline: New Zealand to open embassy in Ireland

New Zealand has announced plans to open its first embassy in Dublin. At present, the country is represented here by the New Zealand High Commission in London. However, there is a New Zealand Honorary Consulate-General in the capital. An estimated 14,000 Irish-born people live in New Zealand, while approximately one-in-six New Zealanders claim Irish heritage – out of a total population of 4.7 million.

http://www.newstalk.com/reader/47.301/95697/0/