Qld lawyer calls for rape law reform

Prominent Queensland lawyer Bill Potts is calling for reform to the state’s rape laws.A high-profile Queensland criminal lawyer says more clarity is needed around consent in rape laws, as victim advocates repeat calls for the state government to review current legislation.

Bill Potts, one of ‘s most senior criminal defence practitioners, said regular law reform was necessary to reflect changes in society and welcomed discussion on creating a clearer definition of consent.

“If there is a better way of expressing a law – then let’s have that debate,” he told AAP.

Mr Potts said clarity on consent would give justice to victims of the crime, those charged with criminal offences, and jurors.

His comments come as rape victim advocates repeat their concerns that the state’s sexual consent laws are so outdated that most assaults go unreported.

Women’s Legal Service solicitor Julie Sarkozi said the offence of rape is easier to defend in Queensland than in any other state, because defendants can still argue they mistakenly believed they had consent.

“The existing rape laws are failing Queenslanders so badly that the majority of rapes go unreported,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.

The service, which provides free legal advice and social support to domestic violence victims, wants the Queensland government to follow the lead of NSW.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman referred consent laws to the Law Reform Commission and declared a “systemic problem” with sexual assault reporting and convictions in the state.

His actions were in response to Saxon Mullins speaking out about her ordeal as an 18-year-old virgin when she says she was anally raped by Luke Lazarus in a Kings Cross alleyway behind a nightclub in 2013.

Mr Lazarus was acquitted after a judge ruled the 21-year-old believed he had consent.

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has urged Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor government to take similar action to NSW.

“What has gone is absolutely abhorrent,” she said in reference to the Lazarus case.

“I would support a review into those laws, I think it’s important, if other states are looking into consent.”

Responding to calls from the Women’s Legal Service for a legal review earlier this month, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the state government would await the NSW findings before it considered taking action.

Ms D’Ath said she would ask the Women’s Legal Service to provide specific examples of their concerns.

“We have a strong criminal code in Queensland with a clear definition of consent and a maximum penalty of life for rape,” she told AAP.

“The Palaszczuk government has a track record of working with stakeholders on reform to the code where required.”

Consent was at the centre of a recent trial in Brisbane, where defendants Ryan David George and Jack Scott Turner Winship argued a woman had agreed to sex with them in a West End alley.

The men were sentenced in the Brisbane District Court to at least four years and three months jail on Wednesday.

Tully offers Ipswich sacking alternative

Ipswich City councillors have argued it would be unfair if innocent elected officials were all sacked due to the actions of those charged by Queensland’s corruption watchdog.

The scandal-plagued council late Thursday lodged its show-cause submission to the state government as to why it shouldn’t be dismissed, despite two successive mayors and CEOs facing serious charges.

In all, 15 people with links to the council have been slapped with a total of 73 charges by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Recent fraud charges brought against mayor Andrew Antoniolli, who replaced Paul Pisasale last August after he resigned amid corruption charges, prompted Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to dismiss the entire council.

The council’s show-cause submission stressed no one had been found guilty of any charge and the council had continued to deliver its daily functions .

Acting Mayor Wayne Wendt said it highlighted that all allegations were the result of “complex investigations by police”.

“Many of the charges are totally unrelated to local government, the council or the councillors,” Mr Wendt said.

“The removal of innocent and democratically elected officials from their positions is not the right move.

“It would take away people’s representation at the grassroots.”

Mr Wendt said 19 recommendations put to council in a 2017 review of governance, most to improve transparency and accountability, had been enacted.

He claimed most constituents want the sitting councillors to remain, despite a “vocal minority” .

Veteran councillor Paul Tully, meanwhile, said he wanted Mr Hinchliffe to appoint an oversight committee to watch and report back on the council’s dealings over the next two years.

Mr Hinchliffe won’t make a quick call on the council’s fate, saying he would make a decision within seven to 28 days.

Pisasale, who resigned last June, is on bail charged with corruption, extortion, assault, misconduct and perjury, while former chief executives Carl Wulff and Jim Lindsay are also before the courts.

New Vic rorts-for-votes inquiry can start

A fresh inquiry into Victorian Labor’s systematic misuse of $388,000 in parliamentary allowances to partially fund the 2014 election campaign can start after weeks of deadlock.

The committee had been in stalemate on who should head the inquiry because Labor and the Greens backed Greens MP Nina Springle, but the opposition and some crossbench MPs wants Liberal MP Gordon Rich-Phillips.

Independent MP James Purcell was instead appointed to chair the upper house committee on Wednesday, but Premier Daniel Andrews would not comment on the matter.

“It is totally inappropriate for me to run a commentary on that and I won’t,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“The composition of the committee, it’s work, that is a matter for the committee.”

But Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says Mr Andrews has some explaining to do.

“Daniel Andrews and his government needs to explain to Victorians about them stealing $400,000,” he told reporters.

“(Labor) are responsible for the greatest rort…in Victorian political history.”

The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass found Labor MPs systematically misused parliamentary allowances to partially fund the party’s winning 2014 election campaign.

She found the MPs breached parliamentary guidelines by authorising electoral officer time sheets when the staff were instead working on campaigns in other seats.

However, she also found that MPs who participated believed it was within the rules and Labor has repaid the money.

Eleven of the 21 MPs involved are still in parliament, including Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings and Families Minister Jenny Mikakos in the upper house.

The committee can ask people outside parliament and lower house MPs to give evidence but it cannot compel Legislative Assembly members to appear.

Hamburg to restrict older diesel vehicles

Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg, will ban the most polluting diesel cars from two major streets from next week, in a move that could encourage other cities to follow suit and step up the pressure on carmakers to consider costly vehicle refits.

Hamburg, home to around 1.8 million people, said the ban would start on May 31 and affect diesel models that do not meet the latest Euro-6 emissions standards.

The move follows a ruling in February by Germany’s top administrative court that said the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf should consider bans for older diesel models.

The detailed publication of that ruling last Friday showed local authorities were entitled to implement targeted bans with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels into line with European Union rules, although curbs affecting wider city areas should only be phased in over time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has long sought to avoid bans, as has the VDA auto industry lobby representing carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

Levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted by diesel engines and known to cause respiratory disease should fall significantly as more efficient Euro-6 models are sold and emissions-cleaning software updates take effect, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

The bans in Hamburg affect a section of about 1600 metres on Stresemannstrasse, where the restrictions will only apply to commercial vehicles weighing 3.5 tonnes or more, and a section of about 580 metres on Max-Brauer-Allee, covering all diesel vehicles.

Both streets are in Altona, a busy district in the west of the city.

Sick, elderly and kids get flu jab in Vic

Flu vaccines in Victoria will be rationed to the vulnerable, says Health Minister Jill Hennessy.Victoria’s children, sick and elderly will get first dibs on the state’s flu vaccine supply until the Commonwealth can get a “solid supply” for the rest of the population, the state’s health minister says.

Jill Hennessy told reporters on Wednesday the jab would be rationed to “the vulnerable” until there was a stable supply after record numbers of people had opted for the vaccine, causing a shortage.

“Until we can get the assurance from the commonwealth government there’s flu vaccine available for all … we’re rationing our flu vaccines for the most vulnerable groups. They are largely people with certain kinds of illnesses, for the elderly and for young children,” Ms Hennessy said.

“But we want the flu vaccine to be available for all and that’s why we have called upon the federal government to get more assertive and organised about ensuring a solid supply.”

She wrote to the federal government last week about the expected availability of the vaccine and has been told additional orders have been placed and are due to arrive in a couple of weeks.

It comes after 121 aged care residents suffered flu-related deaths in Victoria last year.

More than five million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine have been brought into under the National Immunisation Program but increased demand has impacted supply, federal health authorities told AAP on Monday.

“According to states and territories, compared to last year, there has been a 25-30 per cent increase in demand,” Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs said in a statement.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has released 9.6 million doses of influenza vaccines under the immunisation program, state programs and the private market as of Monday.

Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile: Shannonsablast trainer Darren Elder hopes for third time lucky

Louth Park trainer Darren Elder believes Shannonsablast is better placed third time around to change his luck in the Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile on Saturday night.

ON TRACK: Darren and Brad Elder with Shannonsablast.

Shannonsablast gained the coveted gate one for the group 3 feature on Monday and was an $8.50 shot with TAB Fixed Odds.

The gelding started from gate two last year but a flat tyre ruined his hopes and he finished last. In 2016, he had gate one but was unable to capitalise at the start and finishedsecond last.

Elder was confident of a better showing this year.

“He’s a lot better off themobile than what he used tobe, and [driver] Brad [Elder] will have him up there near the lead,” Elder said.“We’re happy with him. I think we’ve timed our run a bit better than previous years.”

Kevin Pizzuto’s Majordan (gate seven) was the $1.80 favourite. Ellalong trainer Michael Formosa’s Ultimate Art (eight) was $31. Morisset trainer Mark Callaghan’s Sir Major Stride (five) ($71) was the other Hunter hope.

“Majordan has been going really good,” Elder said.

“He gets off the gate quick and has been running good times, and Mick Formosa’s horse is a good horse. He’s been running really well without winning.

“Those are the two horses to beat on class.”

Shannonsablast has missed a place in his past three starts, all at Menangle.However, before that, the eight-year-old was a winner at Newcastle thenMenangle, where he clockeda career-best 1.51.1.

”He had a bit of a break and then first run back, the way they drove him, it’s taken him a while to come back from it,” Elder said of his start on April 14.

“It just knocked him around a bit.

“But he’s getting back there, and he worked really well this morning. We’re confident he’ll be up there in the hunt.”

Darren McCall’s fast-starter Bettor Bet Black won the past two Newcastle Mile’s but he is not returning this year. Elder, Formosaand Callaghan are chasinga breakthrough win for Hunter trainers in Newcastle’s feature event. The only joy for the Hunter in modern times as been Maitland trainer-owner Keith McDeed’s win with Medowie Prince in 1993.

Mum takes next step in deportation fight

A Brisbane-based Filipino woman is battling to stay in with her 8-year-old son, Giro.A Filipino woman trying to keep her family together will take the next step in her fight against deportation from .

Brisbane-based Bernadette Romulo will meet with government officials on Thursday as she tries to ensure she won’t have to leave behind her eight-year-old n-born son Giro.

Giro cannot leave with his mother if she is deported to the Philippines due to partial custody arrangements with his Filipino-n father.

“My boy cries himself to sleep every night and having nightmares, knowing we will soon be leaving him behind,” Ms Romulo wrote in a petition earlier this month.

She met with immigration officials on May 8, the day her bridging visa expired, fearing she and her overseas-born daughters – half-sisters to Giro – would be deported after 11 years living in .

But Ms Romulo, who originally arrived in on a 457 visa, was given some renewed hope with another bridging visa extension until this week.

More than 33,000 people have signed a change成都桑拿 petition started by Ms Romulo titled ‘Peter Dutton: Please don’t tear my family apart’.

As part of the petition, Ms Romulo recorded a tearful plea begging the Home Affairs Minister to let her stay with her son.

She has told AAP her six years of fighting for permanent residency was all about staying together as a family.

“If we get deported, it doesn’t matter as much, as long as we can keep my son,” she said.

Mr Dutton’s office previously said he’s not handling the case and the matter is with Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke.

Mr Hawke’s office says the case has already been comprehensively assessed by the department and the assistant minister only intervenes in a “relatively small number of cases”.

“Child custody matters are beyond the scope of this department and are addressed through the appropriate jurisdiction of family law,” it said in a statement.

Yulia Skripal hopes to return home one day

Yulia Skripal has spoken for the first time about being poisoned and her hope of returning home.Yulia Skripal survived an assassination attempt that UK authorities blame on Russia. But the daughter of one of Russia’s most famous spies says she wants to return to her country “in the longer term” despite the poisoning.

“The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking,” Skripal told Reuters in an exclusive statement. “My life has been turned upside down.”

Yulia and her father Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.

Yulia Skripal, 33, was in a coma for 20 days.

“I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned,” Skripal said in her first media appearance since the poisoning. She contacted Reuters through the British police.

Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state. She was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital about five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now.

“We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful,” she said in her written English statement which was released on Wednesday.

“As I try to come to terms with the devastating changes thrust upon me both physically and emotionally, I take one day at a time and want to help care for my Dad till his full recovery. In the longer term, I hope to return home to my country.”

Skripal spoke in Russian and supplied a statement that she said she had written herself in both Russian and English. She signed both documents after making her statement.

She declined to answer questions after speaking to camera.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 80s. May blames Russia for the poisoning.

It was the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since World War Two. Allies in Europe and the US sided with May’s view and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he thought Yulia Skripal was speaking under duress.

“We have not seen her or heard from her,” he said when asked to comment on the story.

Russia’s ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, has repeatedly demanded to see Yulia, who was a Russian citizen when she was poisoned.

“I’m grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian embassy. But at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services,” Skripal, who wore a light blue summer dress and bore a scar on her neck, said.

“Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement, that no one speaks for me, or for my father but ourselves.”

Mystery surrounds the attack. The motive is unclear, as is the logic of using such an exotic nerve agent which has overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.

“I don’t want to describe the details but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing,” she said in Russian.

NRLCan the Newcastle Knights stop Sharks winger Valentine Holmes’ from causing havoc again on Sunday?

Valentine Holmes is back on the wing, back to his best form and back as a leading contender for a wing spot in the Queensland State of Origin side to be announced on Monday morning.

All of which spells trouble for the Newcastle Knights less than 24 hours earlier at Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium.

No player has terrorised the Knights defence more than the Cronulla wingerin recent seasons.

While the Sharks have won their past six matches against the Knights including four of their past five in Newcastle, Holmes’ record is even more impressive.

Elusive: Sharks winger Valentine Holmes loves scoring tries against the Newcastle Knights. Picture: AAP

In his last five games against Newcastle, he has crossed for nine tries and will be looking to add to that impressive haul on Sunday.

READ MORE: Newcastle KnightsKnights coach Nathan Brown will be stressing the need for his defence to stay vigilant whenever the fleet-footed winger is around the ball but hewon’t be Brown’s only concern.

While they boast some individual brilliance that can hurt you, the Sharks are also the kings of the graft and can suffocate you out of games.

“They love grinding out wins,” Knights five-eighth Connor Watson said.

“They’ve got a great forward pack and a lot of older heads there who just know how to win footy games and we’ve seen that in the last couple of weeks.

“Even the younger guys that have come up to the fill the shoes [of the injured players] have done the same thing as the ones that were there before them.

“It’s a big challenge. I think for us, we just need to grit our teeth and get stuck in and have a real crack.”

Watson believes the Knights will need to chance their arm a little bit to pull off an upset.

“Every game you want to get in the grind and try to break down teams but I think when it comes down to it, you have to chance your arm and ice those opportunities that are there,” he said.

“We won’t be shying away from playing our attacking footy which we are doing a good job of. It’s just our defence where we really need to knuckle down.”

Significantly, the Knights are averaging slightly more points in attackthan the Sharks but are letting in eight points a game more.

Trump may impose tariffs on car imports

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to impose new tariffs on imported vehicles, invoking a national security law that was used to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel.

President Donald Trump has pledged to revive American manufacturing and earlier this year criticised European auto imports and tariffs.

“There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!” Trump said in a tweet.

The administration is considering launching a so-called ‘Section 232’ investigation into auto imports that could see tariffs of up to 25 per cent imposed on imports.

At a meeting with automakers at the White House on May 11, Trump told automakers he was planning to impose tariffs of 20 or 25 per cent on some imported vehicles, sources have told Reuters, specifically criticising German automakers for importing a large number of vehicles into the US.

Automakers think Trump might target the European Union and potentially Canada, Mexico and Japan.

The White House could opt to negotiate with individual countries about whether auto tariffs take effect. Trump would have to launch a probe before he could impose the tariffs.

John Bozzella, chief executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota, Nissan Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co and others, said tariffs on imported vehicles would hurt American consumers.

“The US auto industry is thriving and growing,” he said, noting 12 million cars and trucks were produced in the US last year.

“To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America.”

Trump has launched a series of trade actions, demanding China import more American goods, starting talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

The US imported 8.3 million vehicles in 2017 worth $US192 billion, including 2.4 million from Mexico, 1.8 million from Canada, 1.7 million from Japan, 930,000 from South Korea and 500,000 from Germany, according to US government statistics.

At the same time, it exported nearly 2 million vehicles worldwide worth $US57 billion.