Archive for Australia
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.
The site of the Australian embassy in Sathorn area, almost eight rai of land, is being offered for sale by expression of interest, according to the appointed sole agent JLL. The compound covers 12,728 square metres of freehold land on South Sathorn Road, one of Bangkok’s prime commercial and residential addresses. The closing date for offers is early June.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says officials are in talks with US counterparts to get clarity on how the order may affect Australians. “The Australian embassy in Washington is engaging with US officials on the potential implications of the suspension for Australian travellers, including dual nationals,” a spokeswoman told AAP in a statement. All travellers are being warned that rules could change at short notice. “Travellers should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the United States for the most current information,” the spokeswoman added. Australians who hold passports from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may potentially be turned away from the US. The government’s Smarttraveller website has updated its notifications warning travellers to the US about the controversial new rules. Australians who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria will no longer be allowed to apply for the standard electronic travel authorisation – ETSA – which travellers must complete before heading to the US. The ETSA is an online application that determines entry eligibility based on security or police risks. All those affected will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate.
A Russian diplomat in Australia called the remark of Australian PM Tony Abbott about his intention to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin “immature.” He reminded the Aussie politician that he might be “very fit” but Putin is “a professional judo wrestler.” Abbot’s scandalous remark came on Monday after he told journalists that he is going to “shirtfront” the Russian president on the sidelines of G20 summit over the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner crash in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in July. “I am going to shirtfront Mr Putin – you bet I am – I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered, they were murdered by Russian backed rebels,” Abbott said. Shirtfront is a football technique for a front-on chest bump or rough handling aimed at knocking your rival backward to the ground. It’s “a reportable offence and considered illegal,” says the Australian Football Rules website. The Russian Embassy in Australia, however, didn’t let Abbot’s remark go unnoticed. Third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Canberra, Aleksandr Odoevsky, told the Australian Associated Press that the remarks of the Australian PM were “immature.”
A man who rammed the front gates of the United States Embassy in Yarralumla last year has escaped conviction on mental health grounds. Adrian Richardson, 30, absconded from the mental health unit at the Canberra Hospital when he drove his orange Peugeot hatchback into the embassy’s main security gate on the evening of July 10, 2013. He previously pleaded not guilty to intentionally destroying or damaging an official residence of an internationally protected person and appeared during a brief trial in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Burns told the court the case was unusual because both Crown prosecutors and Richardson’s defence team agreed on the facts of the incident and were arguing he should not be found guilty. The court heard Richardson had left the hospital’s mental health high dependency unit, where he was treated as an in-patient for five days, before he drove towards the embassy. He revved the car’s engine and accelerated into the 3.4 metre-high gates, which caused significant damage to the gates and breached the embassy’s perimeter. Richardson, who is from Queensland, was stopped by police and security guards when he got out of the car unharmed. Mental health professionals diagnosed Mr Richardson with a psychotic illness and said he suffered from a delusional disorder, the court heard. The court heard the embassy gates were later replaced at a cost of $15,200. The jury deliberated for just 15 minutes before delivering its verdict. It found Richardson not guilty due to mental impairment.
Newsline: Cambodian protesters clash with police outside Australian embassy ahead of refugee resettlement deal
Cambodian protesters clashed with police outside the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh, as Immigration Minister Scott Morrison prepared to sign a deal in which the impoverished South-East Asian country would resettle Australian-bound refugees. At least one protester was knocked down by police, suffered a cut head and was dragged away during the protests, as more than 100 Cambodians demanded Canberra abandon the agreement. Cambodia’s Minister of Interior, Sar Kheng, told reporters in Cambodia on Friday that the resettlement deal, to be signed at a table in a bare meeting hall in Phnom Penh with a tiny Australian flag and a tiny Cambodian flag on the table, by Mr Morrison and Mr Kheng, will initially involve a small number of refugees moving to Cambodia under a pilot project.
Saudi Arabians posted to their embassy in Canberra appear to flout official requests to pay traffic and parking fines. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade data shows staff at Middle Eastern missions rack up most of the overdue fines among the capital’s diplomatic community. Saudis attached to the nation’s embassy had amassed 125 outstanding infringement notices as of March, far more than any other country’s diplomatic corps. The Saudi tally was followed by Russia’s (49 fines), Jordan’s (35) and Kuwait’s (27). Some fines had gone unpaid for more than 15 months. Yet Saudi ambassador Nabil Al Saleh made it clear the practice of ignoring traffic and parking infringements was against his wishes. Most nations, including Australia, tell their envoys to pay such fines, deferring to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’ request that posted officials “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state”.