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Rescued Aussies owe almost $600k

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 10 Maret 2013 | 23.08

THE Federal Government is pursuing repayment of almost $600,000 in emergency no-interest loans made to Australians who were stranded overseas.

It is also trying to recover almost $175,000 in loans to Australians when they were in foreign jails.

Emergency loans are made to Australians without money for return airfares or who get stuck with medical or accommodation bills.

The prisoner loans are made to Australians, mainly in Third World jails, so they can buy food, medicines, toiletries or other essentials.

Loans can also be made when an Australian national's welfare is under threat.

All loans are made on the basis no alternative source of funds is available, including from family and friends, and recipients are required to sign undertakings to repay the loans once back home, or freed from prison.

But a number who do not repay it are now being pursued through court action.

Money is recovered by instalment or by Centrelink deductions. People who have not repaid loans can be refused passport renewals.

Just over $1.3 million in travellers' emergency loans have been paid over the past four years, according to data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but only $722,000 has been recovered.

"The timing of repayments varies depending on circumstances and capacity to repay," a DFAT spokesman said. "The department has a robust system to pursue debts, including regular follow-up through letters and phone calls."

There were 60 Australians in overseas jails last year who received $63,947 for supplementary food, medications or other essentials.

"The loan is fully repayable to the Government following the prisoner's release - outstanding prisoner loans, for prisoners who have been released and are now repaying, total $174,466."

Countries in which Australians are eligible for aid under the prisoner loan scheme include Argentina, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, among others.

mark.dunn@news.com.au


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Buying the family home - again

Mark and Lyn Sultana and Ricki Irons at the old family home in Pasadena yesterday. Picture: Tait Schmaal Source: adelaidenow

ONE of Ray Irons' dying wishes was for his family to buy the beloved Pasadena home he built in the 1970s.

That wish came true at the weekend when his grandson Ricki Irons, daughter Lyn Sultana and her husband Mark bought the Barcroft St home - putting it back in the hands of the family.

Mr Irons, a former Operation Flinders ambassador who died last week, aged 90, sold the home in 1989.

While in SA for his funeral, relatives visited the old family home at Pasadena to reminisce and discovered the home was to be auctioned that weekend.

"It was quite bizarre that we'd buried my father on Friday; we were all there for that weekend and it just happened to be that that was the weekend of the auction and yet it had been on the market for some time," said Ms Sultana, 51, of Melbourne.

"We bought it from the same people we'd sold it to and it hasn't even been sold in between, and let me tell you, everything is exactly the same.

"Not even the towel rails have fallen off the wall and the pool's been empty for 20 years and there's not even a tile off the wall.

"My father was an engineer so this house was built to last forever - there's not a crack in the wall and nothing has been replaced."

Mr Irons had the home custom-built in the 1970s for $21,000. He dug the pool himself - 2.6m deep because he was a keen diver. The home sold under the hammer for $580,000.

"In the end we did stretch it but it's something Dad would have liked to have done," Ms Sultana said.

"Mark had Dad's photo in his back pocket ... we were guided by him."

Ray White Colonel Light Gardens real estate agent Matt Giblin, who sold the home, said it was great to see the home back in the hands of the Irons family. "The timing was perfect and it was all meant to be," he said.

"It was a surprise that they appeared at the auction because they hadn't been involved throughout the campaign.

"I'm so happy for them and they seem excited, and the vendor is really happy as well, so it's a great result."


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Rudd a Senate 'safe bet'

Kevin Rudd's older brother Greg has confirmed he will stand as an independent for the Senate at the next federal election. File picture: Adam Smith Source: The Courier-Mail

KEVIN Rudd's brother Greg is trying to negotiate a preferences deal with the LNP to help him win a seat in the Senate.

Greg Rudd is standing as an independent candidate in Queensland at the September 14 election.

But the former ALP member is hoping the deal will get him across the line.

Mr Rudd has already met senior figures in the LNP and is due to make a formal approach to the party this week.

He said he expected the LNP to attract a higher vote than at the last election in Queensland and wanted to tap into their excess votes.

The LNP just fell short of three quotas at the last election and secured three senators after preferences.

"Whatever quota the LNP get, they will get a quota plus something," Mr Rudd told The Courier-Mail.

"I will be trying to attract the 'plus something', because where else will they send it?

"They obviously won't give it to the Labor Party, they won't give it to the Greens and they see the Bob Katter party as a party that will undermine their own bedrock.

"When they look around at all the options of where their preferences could flow, I will be a safer bet."

LNP state director Brad Henderson said his party had not yet decided about where it would direct preferences but he suggested he supported Mr Rudd's candidacy.


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Aussie web domains up for grabs

The domain name Sydney.com.au, which is the number one Google search result for "Sydney'', is up for sale. Source: Supplied

SOME of Australia's most iconic online real estate could be snapped up by American corporations in a multi-million dollar package being shopped to large foreign investors.

A suite of five web domains potentially worth more than $3.5 million including Sydney.com.au, Brisbane.com.au; Melbourne.com.au and Adelaide.com.au is up for sale, with interest being especially sought from overseas companies.

Mike Robertson of Brisbane company Domain Guardians, which is brokering the sale, said no price had been set for the the domains, which were first registered almost 20 years ago, but that the package could potentially fetch upwards of $3.5 million.

The high-profile web addresses, which also include Auction.com.au, currently generate revenues of between $50,000 and $137,000 a year, with Sydney.com.au coming up as the number one Google search result for "Sydney''.

Mr Robertson said he had already received inquiries from three Australian companies, but was aiming to sell the addresses as a single package to an overseas investor.

Melbourne.com.au is one of the iconic domains up for grabs. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

"We're looking to sell to mainly an overseas company, maybe a large international corporation who is a diverse player in the media, retail, real estate and tourism industries,'' he said.

"Any international corporation that's wanting to make a big power play into the Australian market and space, they would be a natural fit."

In 2007 Melbourne.com sold for $700,000, while in America last year Colorado real estate agent Peter Niederman paid a reported "seven-figure sum'' for Denver.com - a city with a population of just over 600,000.

Many other US city domain names have been acquired by large media companies: The New York Times owns Boston.com, newspaper company Media News Group owns LA.com, while NJ.com and Cleveland.com belong to Advance Publications, the owner of link-sharing website Reddit and magazine company Conde Nast.

Domain Guardians, which is brokering the sale, said no price had been set for the site of domains, which includes Adelaide.com.au.


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PM fumes over minister's comments

IN a stunning rebuke of a senior minister, the Prime Minister's office yesterday warned Stephen Smith to tone down his comments after he said federal Labor had been a "drag on" the WA branch.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was reported to be furious about the Defence Minister's comment in the wake of the WA wipeout, which follows worse Labor floggings in Queensland and NSW.

MPs believe the state disasters point to an expected massacre at a federal level in September, when a 7 per cent swing would potentially wipe 30 seats from Labor.

Labor lost at least seven seats in the weekend state election, as West Australian premier Colin Barnett celebrated the Liberals' performance in winning enough seats to govern on its own.

The WA Liberals and the Nationals will form a coalition with a predicted 40 seats of 59, while Labor could slide from 27 to 19.

Mr Barnett said federal issues were background to the win, although he noted WA Labor leader Mark McGowan's call for Ms Gillard not to visit during the campaign was a mistake.

In saying Labor had plenty to work on before the federal poll, Mr Smith said: "There's no doubt we have been a drag on Mark (McGowan) and there's no doubt we haven't been helpful."

One Gillard supporter said "Smith's comments were not helpful at all," noting Kevin Rudd supporters had seized on the comments.

"It's that sort of thing that could ignite the whole thing," the MP said. Another Labor MP said the call to Mr Smith, who would have to fight to hold his seat if the Perth swing was replicated federally, was "not a good look".

In a later interview with ABC radio, Mr Smith was less strident about federal Labor.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said he also believed state issues resulted in Labor's flop in WA, and added support to Mr Smith's claims, saying: "I understand why Stephen Smith said those things."

In a sign of how desperate caucus has become, one MP said a senior NSW minister was "telling people they think there will be a challenge in the next two weeks", with Ms Gillard entering a potentially dangerous parliamentary sitting period. "Her camp has to be more than half expecting it," the MP said.

Labor figures tore into the party's problems with former WA premier Geoff Gallop telling Sky: "The public are looking in and they don't like what they see. Tthey don't like the Labor Party." Former federal leader Mark Latham called for reform because "the ship is going down".


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Festival catches young drug users

Jade Barbar (left), Amarni Skaf, Elycia Paredes, Aisha Skaf and Stacey Kenjar enjoy the day at the Good Life under-18s music festival. Picture: Attila Szilvasi Source: The Daily Telegraph

Police arrest a young woman at Good Life. Picture: Attila Szilvasi Source: The Daily Telegraph

A MAKESHIFT "naughty corner" was set up yesterday after teenagers were allegedly caught in possession of drugs at an underage music festival.

The care unit, set up by police monitoring the Good Life event at Randwick Racecourse, was a hive of activity as officers dealt with dozens of teens caught allegedly breaking the law.

One girl was led away in handcuffs and placed in a paddy wagon while others were held until their parents arrived to collect them. Random breath tests and pat-down searches were also carried out by private security staff inside the venue.

A Good Life spokeswoman said the event had "gone smoothly", despite a few misbehaving teens: "The majority of people were fantastic ... it's been a great day."


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Hamish and Andy in Gold Logie battle

Comic duo Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have both been nominated for a Gold Logie. Picture: TV Week Magazine Source: Supplied

Lachy Hulme is a favourite to claim the most popular actor prize for his role as Kerry Packer in Howzat! Kerry Packer's War.Picture: TV Week Magazine Source: Supplied

THE race to claim this year's Gold Logie will pit Australia's favourite comic duo Hamish Blake and Andy Lee against each other for the first time.

The Gap Year enthusiasts and Caravan Of Courage co-drivers could divide in two the social media fan solidarity credited with pushing Blake to a controversial win at the annual TV industry prize night last year  this time both nabbing individual nominations for the major gong.

The Gold Logie category for 2013 looks an open field of chances, shared across four networks, with nods for Adam Hills (ABC1), Asher Keddie (Ten), Carrie Bickmore (Ten), Steve Peacocke (Seven), as well as Blake and Lee for Nine.

In a sneak peek at four award nominations - ahead of the full list rolling out in TV Week magazine and online - surprise contenders include most popular actor hopeful Hugh Sheridan, for his fleeting farewell appearances on Packed To The Rafters and most popular presenter nominee Chrissie Swan, host of the struggling Can Of Worms.

Swan, embroiled in a pregnancy smoking scandal last month, remains a huge favourite with female viewers despite disappointing ratings for her panel show but is not expected to attend the gala red carpet ceremony on April 7 (which clashes with the due date of her third child).

Comic queen Julia Morris has been recognised for her outstanding acting debut on the prime-time hit, House Husbands, but faces strong competition for most popular actress from Offspring's Asher Keddie, newcomer Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues), Deborah Mailman (Mabo) and multiple Logie-winner Rebecca Gibney (Packed To The Rafters).

In something of a shock likely to fuel his haters, former Gold Logie winner and Today show co-host Karl Stefanovic was overlooked for a Gold Logie nomination for the first time in three years.

After his AACTAs disappointment (losing out to Rake's Richard Roxborough) leading man Lachy Hulme looks a certainty to claim the most popular actor prize for his imposing transformation as the late media mogul, Kerry Packer in Howzat! Kerry Packer's War.

His competition in that category (notable for the absence of Roxborough) comes from his Offspring and Howzat! co-star Matthew Le Nevez, Firass Dirani (for The Straits and House Husbands), Home And Away's Steve Peacocke and Hugh Sheridan (for Packed To The Rafters).

GOLD: MOST POPULAR PERSONALITY ON AUSTRALIAN TV

Adam Hills (Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight, ABC1)
Andy Lee (Hamish & Andy's Euro Gap Year/Hamish & Andy's Caravan Of Courage: Australia Vs New Zealand, Nine Network)
Asher Keddie (Offspring, Network Ten)
Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)
Hamish Blake (Hamish & Andy's Euro Gap Year/Hamish & Andy's Caravan Of Courage: Australia Vs New Zealand, Nine Network)
Steve Peacocke (Home And Away, Channel Seven)

MOST POPULAR ACTOR
Firass Dirani (House Husbands, Nine Network/The Straits, ABC1)
Hugh Sheridan (Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)
Lachy Hulme (Howzat! Kerry Packer's War, Nine Network, Beaconsfield, Nine Network/Offspring, Network Ten)
Matthew Le Nevez (Offspring, Network Ten)
Steve Peacocke (Home And Away, Channel Seven)

MOST POPULAR ACTRESS

Asher Keddie (Offspring, Network Ten)
Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues, Network Ten/Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, ABC1)
Deborah Mailman (Mabo, ABC1/Redfern Now, ABC1/Offspring, Network Ten)
Julia Morris (House Husbands, Nine Network)
Rebecca Gibney (Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)

MOST POPULAR PRESENTER
Adam Hills (Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight, ABC1)
Andy Lee (Hamish & Andy's Euro Gap Year/, Nine Network)Hamish & Andy's Caravan Of Courage: Australia Vs New Zealand
Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)
Chrissie Swan (Can Of Worms, Network Ten)
Hamish Blake (Hamish & Andy's Euro Gap Year/Hamish & Andy's Caravan Of Courage: Australia Vs New Zealand, Nine Network)


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Abbott's simple fashion statement

SUITS ME: Tony Abbott went for the white shirt, blue tie look on five straight days last week. Source: The Courier-Mail

HE'S not quite in Paul Keating's Zegna suit league but Opposition leader Tony Abbott's threads are starting to make fashion waves.

For five straight days last week the Opposition leader opted for what is now recognised as his signature outfit - white shirt and blue tie.

The look has been noted by several commentators who have been mostly positive.

And, according to a spokesman from Mr Abbott's Canberra office, we should get used to it.

The spokesman said the simple explanation for the outfit was that Mr Abbott's favourite colour just happens to be a nice Liberal Party shade of blue, as opposed to the Commo crimson of some on the opposing side.

Tony Abbott in Canberra on Monday, March 4.

But the Opposition Leader, who incidentally was reading the Dr Seuss book My Many Coloured Days to kids last week, can still mix and match the primary colours with the best of them.

He's checked out the style of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and American president Barack Obama, both of whom have a strong bias towards the blue tie/white shirt combo.

Both those men also know the value of an informal image and can jettison the tie at the right moment - a trait the Opposition leader has developed too, for example when he ventures north of the Tropic of Capricorn he can often be seen sporting an open-neck shirt and a casual pair of chinos.

"And they have both been pretty successful in politics," the spokesman said. "So he thought if it's good enough for them, it was probably good enough for him."

Tony Abbott visits Beaconsfield on Tuesday, March 5.

David Cameron was second on GQ magazine's list of the world's best-dressed men in 2007.

The same magazine has described Barack Obama as "our best dressed president since JFK".

Mr Abbott has not yet hit the GQ radar and doesn't appear to have ambition in that area.

Staff have said in the past that he does not have a personal stylist, nor has he dyed his hair or had cosmetic dental work.

Tony Abbott at a community meeting at Clovelly Park on Wednesday, March 6.

And he has told journalists he's not a botox type of guy, preferring vigorous early morning exercise to maintain his healthy glow.

The only concessions to vanity in this election year have been hair gel and facial moisturiser - all designed to increase his appeal to women voters.

While the former PM Paul Keating was particular about his dress sense, often donning a Zegna suit, Mr Abbott does not appear to be destined to become a clothes horse.

Last week he insisted his look was designed more to blend in rather than stand out.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott visits a preschool on Thursday, March 7.

"If you've got more or less the same uniform on every day, people just take it for granted and your appearance doesn't become something that people talk about," he said.

The Coalition is being flooded with job applications from potential political advisers - including from staff who worked for the Howard Government before 2007.

But Mr Abbott says he does not wish to "jinx himself by getting too cocky too soon".

"This is the supreme challenge of my life," he told the Nine Network's 60 Minutes last night, as he attempted to play down speculation he was destined for the Lodge.

Tony Abbott speaks to the media on Friday, March 8.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More
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