Categories
Australian News

QPU secures COVID-19 leave and bonuses for its members in deal with State Government


Queensland police officers will enjoy a cash boost and an extra two weeks’ leave in recognition for “going above and beyond” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the deal was struck after negotiations with the State Government, according to The Courier-Mail.

The cash incentive is a one-off $1250 payment that is estimated to cost the State Government $14-15 million.

Mr Leavers said police were the ones on the frontline during the pandemic.

“We are the ones working on the borders. We are the ones doing the compliance. We are the ones keeping the public safe,” he said.

The deal follows the State Government’s announcement of a year-long wage freeze for all of the state’s public servants.

Mr Leavers said that in addition to the cash bonus, union members would receive a period of two weeks’ leave classified as “COVID-19 leave” in the coming weeks.

In March the government also awarded 107,000 of its workforce similar payments of the same amount of $1250, which had amounted to more than $130m.

Teachers and nurses were among those state government workers to receive bonuses.



Source link

Categories
Australian News

$4000 fine for Victoria visitors sneaking into state


People who try and sneak into Queensland who have previously been in Victoria could face a hefty fine under the state’s new border rules

Yesterday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state’s border restrictions would come to an end from July 10

From then on, anyone travelling to the state from other parts of Australia will be able to enter Queensland without having to undergo enforced quarantine.

The exception is for people travelling from Victoria where the rules will actually be toughened up with further restrictions coming in from this coming Friday.

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

RELATED: Victoria banned, other states allowed into Qld from July 10

It follows a spike in new infections in some Melbourne suburbs. Victoria has almost 300 active coronavirus cases compared to just two in Queensland.

From Friday, July 3 anyone who has been to any local government area in Victoria in the two weeks prior to arrival into Queensland will be barred unless they undergo two week’s hotel quarantine at their own expense. That includes Queenslanders returning from Victoria.

Queensland residents are being urged not to travel to Victoria.

The restrictions are far more strict than New South Wales, which has never closed its border to Victoria, although residents there have been urged not to travel to the Melbourne suburbs included in the new lockdown.

“We just can’t risk removing border restrictions for people coming from areas of Victoria right now. These are very big concerns,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Actually preventing people who have been to Victoria from entering Queensland could be tricky. If they are determined enough, they could change planes in another state or simply drive up the coast.

‘HEFTY FINE’

However, the Premier has said there will be penalties for those who break the rules.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Today show this morning, Ms Palaszczuk said when borders for other states came down on July 10, anyone entering Queensland will have to fill out a declaration saying they have not travelled to Victoria in the last 14 days.

If you’re busted, it could be an expensive jaunt to the sunshine state.

“Hopefully everyone will do the right thing. If you falsify the document it‘s a $4000 fine. It’s a pretty hefty fine, we are expecting everyone to do the right thing,” she said.

The Premier said the declaration was necessary to discourage people from other state popping to Melbourne and then heading up to Queensland soon afterwards.

“We now have the crossover of New South Wales and Victoria school holidays,” she said yesterday.

“Our concern is people from New South Wales going into Victoria and then choosing to come to Queensland.

“That is why we now have the border declaration that must be declared. And if you falsify that document, it‘s $4000.”

COVID-19 restrictions within Queensland will be further relaxed on Friday with more people allowed to mingle within homes and at bars and restaurants.

South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall has scrapped plans to open the state to Victoria, NSW and the ACT on July 20, saying the spike was a too greater risk to residents.

“We know that this is going to be very difficult for some people who were planning around the 20th,” Mr Marshall told media on Tuesday.

“Our number one priority is the health, safety and welfare of all South Australians. I know that this is tough. I know that there are many families who are dislocated because of the border arrangements.

“But we have worked so hard to get ourselves into a very enviable position and we are not prepared to go backwards.”



Source link

Categories
Australian News

State to keep border shut


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that the state’s borders will remain closed to Victorians.

“Today I want to address the issue of borders. Let me state from the outset, Queensland has very large concerns about the state of Victoria,” she told reporters today.

“There have been 250 cases in the past seven days. Yesterday, 75 and, today, 64.

“There is community transmission. There’ve been outbreaks in hotels, schools, healthcare, retail and a distribution centre. So, due to the current community transmission levels, the border with Victoria will remain closed and will be strengthened.

“Tougher measures will apply from this Friday, July 3, at 12pm.

“Anyone who has travelled from Victoria, including Queenslanders, will be prevented from entering or will have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for two weeks.

“We just can’t risk removing border restrictions for people coming from areas of Victoria right now.”

EARLIER

Queenslanders will discover today if they’ll be making a cheeky jaunt over the border soon.

Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stood firm on when she would make an announcement on the easing of such restrictions, not budging on the June 30 deadline – even going so far as to laugh off border reopening date questions during a press conference on the weekend.

But the day has finally arrived when Queenslanders will find out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased and that includes the contentious decision on the reopening of borders.

The Queensland Premier has assured the public numerous times that her decision would be supported by “evidence” and medical advice from chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young.

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has pressured on the Palaszczuk Government to reopen borders ahead of schedule from July 1 and said during a press conference yesterday the Premier should be running the state, “not a medical expert”.

“If the Prime Minister says it’s safe for the borders to be open, well then it’s safe,” Ms Frecklington said.

When pressed on the situation in Victoria, where a gobsmacking 75 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded overnight, Ms Frecklington said the health advice for quarantine should be followed.

“I would encourage them not to travel, but visitors coming from hot spots in Victoria should quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and they should do so at their own cost,” she said.

Ms Frecklington said the Premier’s lack of decision-making on borders was costing jobs and closing businesses.

Businesses such as The Tour Collective are especially keen to see the border reopen.

The Tour Collective brand manager Lauren Horner said the border closure had hit every facet of the eco-tourism business, which operates marine and whale-watching tours out of southeast Queensland and the Gold Coast.

“We had to end our season earlier than normal and we are now operating at 50 per cent capacity,” Ms Horner said.

“It’s just not sustainable. We’d like to see borders open as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler said the Whitsunday region had been like a ghost town since borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

“We’re a global destination so the closure of borders has crippled us. Having said that we absolutely do not want to go backwards,” Ms Wheeler said.

“Now that school holidays have started in Queensland, the region is quite busy again and we’re receiving a lot of support from Queenslanders.

“What would help local businesses here most is an easing of restrictions in restaurants and on tours – or even a travel partnership with states who do not pose a serious risk to the public health.”

Today’s announcement is likely to flag the easing of restrictions from July 10, which is also the last day of school holidays in Queensland.

Up to 100 people will be permitted to gather in restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, although opening borders is not covered in the state’s road map to easing restrictions.



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

State in “dangerous situation” as coronavirus cases with an unknown source scale new heights


Loading

That equates to 42 people for whom the infection source could not be traced, a higher number than in any seven-day period over the course of the pandemic.

These figures are based on the last seven days for which there is detailed data, but the health department sometimes revises down the number of suspected community transmissions if further investigation by contact tracers is able to establish a link to a known case.

Evidence of ongoing community transmission indicates the virus is circulating in the community, and that it could lead to cases increasing from just a handful to hundreds within a few weeks, according to University of Sydney Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott.

“We are in a dangerous situation,” said the control of infectious diseases expert.

“This is a global pandemic. We know precisely what happens if this virus starts to spread. It is highly infectious. It’s lethal and we will see potentially large numbers of people die, like we have seen in other countries with advanced healthcare systems.

“That could happen here.”

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor John Mathews said many of the infections during the initial peak of the pandemic were traced back to cruise ships and returned travellers, but now Victoria was seeing an alarming rise in community transmission cases.

He called on Victorian health authorities to provide a detailed breakdown of cases according to sources of transmission, arguing much remained unknown about what was fuelling the recent spike in infections.

Loading

“We haven’t really heard from the Victorian government on precisely what they are doing about this or how they are doing interpreting the data,” Professor Mathews said.

Without a detailed analysis it is impossible to determine what proportion of people infected via community transmission were symptomatic or asymptomatic, he said.

“While it is concerning, it is quite predictable that once people thought the worst was over they stopped social distancing. The events of the last week are a signal to everybody, we can’t let up if we are going to keep it under control.”

Thirteen of the 30 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Victoria on Friday remained under investigation, with just five of the cases detected in return travellers.

Others were linked to known outbreaks, including a number of large family clusters in North Melbourne, Keilor Downs and Coburg.

A case that resulted in the closure of a McDonald’s restaurant in Mill Park now appears to have stemmed from a number of “household parties and gatherings” in Wollert, while numerous workplaces have been impacted, including a Coles distribution centre in Laverton and Orygen youth mental health facility in Footscray.

Residents in Pakenham - a  "COVID-19 cluster suburb" out and about in local shopping areas.

Residents in Pakenham – a  “COVID-19 cluster suburb” out and about in local shopping areas.Credit:Joe Armao

There were 183 active cases of coronavirus confirmed statewide as of Friday, bringing the total recorded overall this year to 1947.

After 10 days of double-digit growth in coronavirus numbers, Monash University’s Professor Allen Cheng said he would not be surprised to see numbers increase again in coming days as authorities embarked on “really intense tracking”.

“Hopefully some of this testing will link out some of these chains. Then we would probably be more confident to say we’ve worked out how everything has happened, and we’re probably get this under control,” the infectious diseases physician said. “But it is a pretty big job, clearly.”

Some of the government’s efforts to identify coronavirus cases had been hampered by returned travellers and Melburnians in hotspot areas refusing to get tested.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen revealed on Friday that 30 per cent of people in the quarantine hotels were refusing tests, along with a proportion of people who had been approached by healthcare workers going door to door in the worst-affected postcodes.

“We would like to really emphasise the message that it is important to get tested and it is important for us to find every case in those areas,” Dr van Diemen said. “We understand why people might have reservations, but we are trying to make it absolutely easy for everybody possible to get tested.”

Outgoing Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said people may be kept in hotel quarantine until they agree to take COVID-19 tests.

He also said testing of people in hotel quarantine will be ramped up and regulations around hotel quarantine may be increased.

Sign up to our Coronavirus Update newsletter

Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments at a glance, the numbers you need to know and what our readers are saying. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Australian News

New South Wales re-signs Brad Fittler as Blues State of Origin coach


Brad Fittler has been rewarded for becoming the first New South Wales coach to win back-to-back series in 14 years with a one-year contract extension.

Fittler has been re-signed by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) until the end of 2021, which would be his fourth season in charge of the Blues.

It means he will become the third longest-serving Blues coach, sitting behind Phil Gould and Laurie Daley.

Fittler guided the Blues to the 2018 series victory — their first in four years — before backing up last year when his side won a gripping State of Origin III.

“I am really grateful for the NSWRL board’s strong show of faith in me and our Origin and pathways program,” Fittler said in a statement.

“It also means my coaching future won’t be a distraction throughout our preparation and defence of the Origin shield.

“Given the year that the entire community has endured from droughts and bushfires to the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t think of a better way to end the year and lift community spirits.

Fittler has revolutionised the Blues’ approach to State of Origin since taking charge in 2018, providing a breath of fresh air for players.

Blues coach Brad Fittler (R) hugs James Roberts after winning State of Origin II in Sydney.
Fittler (right) broke a four-year drought when he guided the Blues to the 2018 series win.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

In his two successful series, he has barred mobile phones in camp, had players train without shoes in earthing sessions and promoted walking to the ground for matches.

“Winning two from two series, the board obviously could not be happier with the way things are going with Origin,” NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said.

“They were very pleased to extend Brad’s contract when they met today. They have every confidence the run of success will continue this year.”

The venues for the November State of Origin series are expected to be confirmed by the NRL in the coming months.

Part of that will include news that State of Origin II will remain at Sydney’s Olympic stadium, putting off a move to the SCG that would have been forced with the ground’s now-abandoned redevelopment.

AAP



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

State extends kindergarten fee subsidy to term three to help sector recover


Part of the funding package will also go towards extra cleaning for kindergartens.

David Worland, chief executive of the Early Learning Association Australia, said kindergartens were still feeling the strain of reduced income, with attendance roughly 80 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 levels. Attendance fell to as little as 5 to 10 per cent at the peak of the pandemic, he said.

He warned that a second wave of the virus or any deepening of the economic recession could put some early-learning centres at risk of closure.

“The sector is certainly strained, whether you’re a long-day-care provider or a sessional kindergarten provider,” Mr Worland said. “Certainly the measures at a state level take some of the risk out of it for families and providers, but does it take all of the risk out? Unfortunately, no.”

Education Minister James Merlino said the funding would provide $230 per child for term three, which is expected to save parents about half the cost of average kindergarten fees. This would mean that on average families would pay $23 a week for sessional kindergarten in term three, he said.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino.Credit:AAP

“We’re saving families hundreds of dollars and ensuring Victorian children can go to kinder and receive the crucial early childhood education they deserve,” Mr Merlino said.

The reduced-fee program will be extended to community-based, local government and school providers that are offering funded sessional programs but are not covered by the Morrison government’s $70 million JobKeeper program.

The kindergarten subsidy program is distinct from the Commonwealth’s $1.6 billion childcare support package, which is due to end on July 12.

The Morrison government made childcare free for all children in April, with the aim of keeping early-learning centres afloat as attendances plummeted amid the pandemic.

Julie Price, executive director of the Community Child Care Association, said there were many families who did not have a healthcare card but were suffering significant financial stress due to losing work or business from COVID-19. They would benefit from the extension of the program.

Get our Morning & Evening Edition newsletters

The most important news, analysis and insights delivered to your inbox at the start and end of each day. Sign up here.

“This is making sure that children are still accessing those good-quality education experiences in the year before they start school,” Ms Price said.

The funding will also go towards cleaning and hygiene grants of $900 for kindergartens with fewer than 50 enrolments and $1500 for those with 50 or more.

There have been a handful of positive coronavirus cases among teachers and children at childcare centres in the past week, in suburbs including Essendon, South Yarra, Pakenham and Reservoir.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

State should consider re-entering lockdown: experts


However, some of the experts behind the report and the state’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, maintained that Australia had not made a mistake by not pursuing elimination.

Professor Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist with Melbourne University who contributed to the government report, compared the suppression strategy to a see-saw: on one side are Victoria’s restrictions, contact tracing and public messaging, and on the other are new cases.

Loading

“As you open society back up, at some point you’re going to exceed the balance and tip the see-saw like we’ve seen in Victoria. Then we have to re-adjust,” he said.

On Monday NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian urged people from her state to avoid visiting Melbourne until further notice as Victoria recorded 16 new cases, including 12 of community transmission.

Professor Blakely rated Victoria’s chances of elimination under the current approach at 10 per cent due to persistent levels of community transmission.

He said while he was not advocating it, the only strategy to avoid similar backflips on restrictions in future would be for Victoria to try to eliminate the virus by returning to a hard lockdown for up to eight weeks.

“The discussion that should be happening behind closed doors – and it’s a really unpleasant one – is whether there is a strong case for Victoria to go back into lockdown,” he said.

“Then all of Australia will have eliminated the virus, or be close to eliminating it, and we can go back to normal life. Otherwise this will happen again and again.”

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday that Victoria was considering enforcing a hard lockdown on Melbourne’s COVID-19 hotspots, similar to the statewide “stay at home” restrictions in March.

Professor Allen Cheng, head of The Alfred hospital’s COVID-19 response and another contributor to the government report, said “everything is on the table” and targeted lockdowns would be reasonable.

Professor Cheng agreed with Professor Blakely that repeated changes to restrictions would be unavoidable, unless Victoria were to enforce a hard lockdown.

“I think everything is on the table after the messages over the weekend,” he said.

“It probably doesn’t make sense to lock down regional areas, for example … but we are worried about some parts of metropolitan Melbourne. All these things [such as lockdowns] should be considered at a very high level. We do need to get this current situation under control.”

Professor Shitij Kapur, the co-chair of April’s government report and the dean of Melbourne University’s medical faculty, said no country had successfully eliminated the virus by preventing new cases for a period of about two months.

Iceland achieved 14 days without a new COVID-19 case twice before new cases re-emerged, while last week New Zealand had seven new infections via hotel quarantine cases after previously declaring itself virus-free.

Professor Sutton indicated on Monday that Victoria would never attempt elimination but “if there’s a requirement for stronger action in order to keep numbers suppressed, we’ve said we’ll take those actions”.

Loading

“When you’ve got 150,000 new cases globally every single day, when quarantine cannot be 100 per cent – as we’ve seen in New Zealand, as we’ve seen here in Melbourne – you have to recognise that a single case could re-emerge anywhere in Australia,” he said

“So the suppression strategy recognises that, and it’s trying to control numbers as much as possible. That’s the approach we’re taking in Victoria.”

Professor Kapur said he was “not alarmed by what we are seeing in Victoria, but I am very cautious”.

“If anyone thought we would quickly get to a place where we could throw caution to the wind and resume our old ways, that was misguided,” he said.

“It was always going to be like this.”

Get our Morning & Evening Edition newsletters

The most important news, analysis and insights delivered to your inbox at the start and end of each day. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Cricket Australia still faces discord with state organisations despite Kevin Roberts’ departure as CEO


The chief executive is gone but Cricket Australia’s problems remain.

NSW Cricket chairman John Knox has confirmed his state has “no intention” of making cuts to staff as the national body calls for savings to be made.

Cricket Australia (CA) is searching for its third chief executive in two years as Kevin Roberts resigned last week only 18 months into his term.

Roberts found himself on the outer with a number of states and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), who refused to deal with him after he claimed the COVID-19 pandemic left the sport in a dire financial position despite no games being lost and a lucrative tour by India still to take place this summer.

While head office said it has slashed $40 million from its expenses, and cut 40 staff, others are not keen to act so quickly.

“We continue to invest significantly in the game of cricket,” Knox told The Ticket.

“We continue to invest in our community cricket, we’ve got nearly 90 people employed in delivering critical cricket services to the grass roots and we’re going to continue to invest hard and grow the game.

“We’ve deliberately made the decision that we think the summer of cricket looks great ahead of us and we’re going to continue to grow what we think is the greatest game in the country.”

Chairman of the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Tuck Waldron said his state had committed to minimal change.

“We’ve made some small staff changes, a small amount of redundancies — around 11 — three of which were voluntary redundancies.

“We’ve changed some of the jobs to job sharing.

The ACA declined to comment given they are currently in negotiations with CA.

CA ‘has always been a bit of a secret society’: Chappell

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell said there wasn’t a partnership between players and the CA board under Kevin Roberts.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell said head office had to deal with issues of trust.

“If you look at everything you’ve been hearing from the ACA … they’ve suggested all along that they’re not happy with the figures they’ve been presented with and they’re not sure they’re seeing either the full picture or the true picture,” he said.

“The thing is, to be successful and to grow the game it’s got to be a partnership between the players and the board and it certainly wasn’t that under the last MOU (memorandum of understanding) and Kevin Roberts was heavily involved in that mistrust.”

The next chief executive of Cricket Australia faces an immediate challenge in earning back the trust of the players and the states.

Waldron said the role required a “people person” if the sport was to regain its position as one of the most respected sports in the country.

“Above all, sport like everything else is about people,” he said.

“The key for me is honesty, integrity and being upfront and taking people with you.

“The great achievements used to come when people took others with them on a journey — and that’s what we need.

“There’s been a bit of an upset in cricket in the last couple of years but let’s hope now we can get in a position and go forward.” 

Working together key for new CEO

His NSW counterpart agreed.

“It’s just about leadership,” Knox said.

Chappell said the CA board had one thing in its favour after the departure of Roberts.

“What the board could now say is ‘all the people from the board involved in that last MOU have now gone, whereas nothing’s changed at the top of the ACA’,” he said.

“So if there is still acrimony when it comes to discuss the next MOU, Cricket Australia could possibly quite easily point the finger and say ‘well we’ve made changes, you haven’t’.”



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Premier Daniel Andrews says state government can’t help Aussie on death row


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says there is little his state government can do to help an Australian actor sentenced to death in China.

Karm Gillespie, who featured on popular television series Blue Heelers and The Man from Snowy River, was arrested in 2013 at an airport in Guangzhou busted with 7.5 kilograms of the drug ice in his luggage.

The 56-year-old from Melbourne was sentenced to death by firing squad on Saturday which sparked questions over the timing of the decision given the increasingly bitter geopolitical tensions between Australia and its biggest trading partner.

RELATED: Aussie facing execution acted in Blue Heelers

The relationship between the two began to sour after the Morrison Government led calls for an inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, which in turn imposed tariffs on exports and slapped a travel warning on Australia saying students are subjected to racism.

Victoria is a part of China’s controversial Belt and Road initiative and has close trade ties with the nation but Mr Andrews said this would hold little sway when it comes to a request for Gillespie’s leniency.

“The notion of sub-sovereign trade arrangements are well proven. The notion of sub-sovereign human rights platforms, I can’t think of a forum that would be structured that way,” the premier said, according to the ABC.

“We don’t engage in foreign policy, we engage in trade and jobs policy.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “deeply saddened to hear of the verdict.”

“Australia opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances for all people,” it said.

“We support the universal abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal through all the avenues available to us.”

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham called the sentence “distressing” but said it shouldn’t necessarily be linked to disputes between China and Australia.

“This is very distressing for Mr Gillespie and his loved ones and our government will continue to provide consular assistance,” Mr Birmingham told Sky News Sunday.

“This is a reminder to all Australians … that Australian laws don’t apply overseas, that other countries have much harsher penalties, particularly in relation to matters such as drug trafficking.”

Many have said the timing of the decision is curious given the initial arrest was back in 2013 but a lawyer who has represented another Aussie who is appealing a suspended death sentence for drug smuggling said the delay is “quite normal”.

“Many foreigners wait six or seven years without a result, it’s normal,” the lawyer said, according to the ABC.

Friends of Mr Gillespie have shared their astonishment at the death sentence, who said the former actor disappeared without a trace back in 2013.

Bali-based entrepreneur Roger James Hamilton shared a photo of Mr Gillespie graduating from a wealth development course not long before he vanished.

“[Karm] had been an active member of our community, encouraging others to be the best they could be. He was always there for others, which was why it was so strange that he suddenly disappeared,” the post read.

“We spent a few years trying to find out how he could disappear so suddenly and so entirely. After that, we resigned ourselves to the idea that he had left because he wanted to start a new life.”

Les Gordon posted on Facebook: “Oh this is just too sad. Now we know what happened to Karm after we were looking for him at those meetings … Who could possibly imagine what he was and is going through?”

One friend claimed online that Gillespie had been “set up” and the drugs were planted in his luggage.

“Knowing Karm and knowing the love he had for his children, this is not a man that deserves to lose his life,” a friend posted on Twitter.



Source link

Categories
News

Premier Daniel Andrews says state government can’t help Aussie on death row


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says there is little his state government can do to help an Australian actor sentenced to death in China.

Karm Gillespie, who featured on popular television series Blue Heelers and The Man from Snowy River, was arrested in 2013 at an airport in Guangzhou busted with 7.5 kilograms of the drug ice in his luggage.

The 56-year-old from Melbourne was sentenced to death by firing squad on Saturday which sparked questions over the timing of the decision given the increasingly bitter geopolitical tensions between Australia and its biggest trading partner.

RELATED: Aussie facing execution acted in Blue Heelers

The relationship between the two began to sour after the Morrison Government led calls for an inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, which in turn imposed tariffs on exports and slapped a travel warning on Australia saying students are subjected to racism.

Victoria is a part of China’s controversial Belt and Road initiative and has close trade ties with the nation but Mr Andrews said this would hold little sway when it comes to a request for Gillespie’s leniency.

“The notion of sub-sovereign trade arrangements are well proven. The notion of sub-sovereign human rights platforms, I can’t think of a forum that would be structured that way,” the premier said, according to the ABC.

“We don’t engage in foreign policy, we engage in trade and jobs policy.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “deeply saddened to hear of the verdict.”

“Australia opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances for all people,” it said.

“We support the universal abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal through all the avenues available to us.”

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham called the sentence “distressing” but said it shouldn’t necessarily be linked to disputes between China and Australia.

“This is very distressing for Mr Gillespie and his loved ones and our government will continue to provide consular assistance,” Mr Birmingham told Sky News Sunday.

“This is a reminder to all Australians … that Australian laws don’t apply overseas, that other countries have much harsher penalties, particularly in relation to matters such as drug trafficking.”

Many have said the timing of the decision is curious given the initial arrest was back in 2013 but a lawyer who has represented another Aussie who is appealing a suspended death sentence for drug smuggling said the delay is “quite normal”.

“Many foreigners wait six or seven years without a result, it’s normal,” the lawyer said, according to the ABC.

Friends of Mr Gillespie have shared their astonishment at the death sentence, who said the former actor disappeared without a trace back in 2013.

Bali-based entrepreneur Roger James Hamilton shared a photo of Mr Gillespie graduating from a wealth development course not long before he vanished.

“[Karm] had been an active member of our community, encouraging others to be the best they could be. He was always there for others, which was why it was so strange that he suddenly disappeared,” the post read.

“We spent a few years trying to find out how he could disappear so suddenly and so entirely. After that, we resigned ourselves to the idea that he had left because he wanted to start a new life.”

Les Gordon posted on Facebook: “Oh this is just too sad. Now we know what happened to Karm after we were looking for him at those meetings … Who could possibly imagine what he was and is going through?”

One friend claimed online that Gillespie had been “set up” and the drugs were planted in his luggage.

“Knowing Karm and knowing the love he had for his children, this is not a man that deserves to lose his life,” a friend posted on Twitter.



Source link