Thursday, August 01, 2019

Crown ad blitz amid new investigation

Crown Resorts is today running a series of full-page advertisements to counter what it describes as “deceitful” reporting on alleged links with organised crime. The casino operator is reportedly outlaying at least $250,000 on the advertisements ($) contesting claims that it worked with tour operators backed by overseas crime syndicates. The Nine group, which broke the initial story, declined to run the advertisement and has instead provided a detailed response to Crown’s claims. On Wednesday evening the chief of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Michael Phelan, revealed that an investigation is under way into organised crime links with casinos, with state and federal police uncovering “insights into vulnerabilities ... within casinos located in Australia”. A separate probe will look into a Border Force official’s provision of protection for an international fugitive. Guardian Australia reports that Crown Resorts failed to meet a Victorian gambling regulator deadline to fix nine serious problems at its Melbourne casino, including money laundering risks.

An investigation by consumer group Choice has found that Australian funeral operators routinely provide misinformation and opaque prices to bereaved customers. Choice mystery shoppers found 14 out of 36 providers did not give customers an estimated cost within 48 hours, with some insisting people meet face-to-face to find out the price, only to provide lump sums instead of itemised bills for add-ons such as personalised sunflower seeds and “mourning stationery”.  Quotes for the cheapest option, a direct cremation with no service, ranged in cost from $2400 to $5600. Of 548 funeral service customers surveyed, two-thirds said they did not think to negotiate the price.

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, has dismissed calls from more than a dozen Pacific countries to stop counting emissions reductions from the Kyoto protocol towards future Paris agreement targets. “Yes, we are going to use carryover credits,” he said. “We've done more than other countries have in reducing emissions and I think that should be recognised.” Australia’s emissions have steadily risen since the repeal of the price on carbon in 2014. The Nadi Bay Declaration signed by Pacific leaders in Fiji on Tuesday evening calls on countries such as Australia to refrain from using carryover credits as an abatement, warning that some of their countries could be uninhabitable as soon as 2030. 

Former rugby international Israel Folau today commences court proceedings for unfair dismissal against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs. “Our conciliation before the Fair Work Commission did not resolve the matters between us,” Folau said in a video message on his website uploaded on Wednesday night. He wants an apology from Rugby Australia, financial compensation and the right to ­resume his career, according to The Australian ($). Folau’s contract was terminated after he posted homophobic messages to social media, with the case expected to establish a precedent for anyone who posts social media content in conflict with their employer’s code of conduct.

The case for raising Newstart
As the campaign to raise Newstart intensifies, details emerge of who is actually living on the payment and for how long.


“The bill amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 by introducing two new offences in relation to the incitement of trespass or property offences on agricultural land. Under the proposed laws, animal rights activists could be imprisoned for up to five years for publishing material that incites others to trespass or engage in property damage or theft on farms. Attorney-General Christian Porter says the government hopes these laws will act as a deterrent.”


“We are witnessing catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the largest living organism on the planet. As I share this horrifying information with audiences around the country, I often pause to allow people to try and really take that information in. Increasingly after my speaking events, I catch myself unexpectedly weeping in my hotel room or on flights home. Every now and then, the reality of what the science is saying manages to thaw the emotionally frozen part of myself I need to maintain to do my job. In those moments, what surfaces is pure grief.”


“If there is one place in Australia possessed by a duality of nature, a double consciousness, it is rural Tasmania; at once haunted and empty, the dark hills of the island hide a malevolent truth of a genocidal war enacted by both individuals and the state. Gough has spent her artistic career exposing that war to the antiseptic light. The superimposed identity of rural England echoes in the place names, tinged with longing and delusion. In a startling act of erasure, the island was once remapped into 18 counties – Dorset, Devon, Cumberland, Lincoln, Buckingham and Cornwall among them.”


“The floodwaters were so vast they were visible on satellite imagery. ‘In the Gulf we saw 500 millimetres of rain in a few days. Some have estimated this was a once in a century event. On the ground we saw 800,000 hectares impacted across four of our properties,’’ Mr Killen told shareholders. When it released its full year results in May AACo revealed that the combination of severe drought in some parts of Australia, combined with the Queensland floods delivered a $107 million hit to its profit.”



“A Townsville woman says she was hit with a $2,000 ‘robodebt’ notice despite a Federal Minister's claim the debt recovery program had been suspended in the wake of February's floods. On Tuesday, Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said ‘no victims in the four postcodes around Townsville have received a debt notice’. ”



“This particular brand of scam was uncovered after a high school guidance counselor called an admissions director at the University of Illinois to ask why a specific student had been invited to an orientation for disadvantaged kids. The director, Andy Borst, looked into it and found that she had legally emancipated herself from her parents—a process that is intended to protect kids from abuse, but does not require any such abuse to have taken place.”


Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.