Kristina Keneally accuses Peter Dutton of ‘cancelling’ trip to Christmas Island and Tamil family visit



The Labor senator had said was “looking forward to meeting” Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters.

Kristina Keneally has accused Defence Minister Peter Dutton of personally intervening to cancel an approved trip to Christmas Island, where she was to visit the Tamil family from Biloela held in immigration detention.

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Labor’s home affairs spokesperson said the Australian Border Force had green-lit her wish to meet the family during a visit to the island next week.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika, five, and Tharunicaa, three, have been detained on Christmas Island since August 2019 after an urgent court injunction blocked their deportation to Sri Lanka.

“Looking forward to meeting Priya, Nades and the girls,” Senator Keneally tweeted at 5:14pm AEST.

But shortly afterwards at 5:25pm, Senator Keneally tweeted she had received an email at 5:12pm saying: “the defence minister has determined that the special purpose aircraft can no longer be made available for the committee’s travel”.

“Dutton cancelled the trip,” she tweeted.

The ABF and the office of Mr Dutton have been contacted for comment. They could not immediately be reached.

Senator Keneally had been due to visit Christmas Island as part of parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Capitals, Guardian Australia reported.

The committee was scheduled to travel to Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands to consult with local community groups and hold public hearings between 19 and 21 April.

The Tamil family is currently the only family detained on Christmas Island.

They will remain there for the immediate future after the full bench of the Federal Court in February upheld an earlier decision which found Tharunicaa was not given procedural fairness when her application for a protection visa was assessed.

The Department of Home Affairs has repeatedly said the family does not meet the criteria for a protection visa.

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Rottnest Island accommodation already sold out for Christmas 2021


When it comes to island escapes, Australia really is spoiled for choice.

From Fraser to Lord Howe, Norfolk and even the luxurious offerings at Lizard Island, there’s no budget that hasn’t been accounted for.

But one island off the coast of Western Australia has proven so popular amid the pandemic you won’t even be able to get a spot for the busy Christmas period eight months away.

Rottnest Island, home to the super cute quokka and surrounded by crystal clear waters, has had almost every camp site, bungalow and cabin sold out for the busy festive season.

RELATED: Inside Richard Branson’s lush $21,000-per-night island

RELATED: Five things travellers should do when booking a hotel

Quokka paradise an easy ferry ride away

The island, just 8km off the WA coast, is not only a popular place to stay overnight – day-trippers love it as well.

Typically, a visit to the island takes just 25 minutes on a ferry from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, or 90 minutes via a ferry from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

With over 63 beaches across the island, the attraction of calm and clear waters is an easy sell.

Rottnest’s most popular activities include swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing, as well as whale watching cruises and even skydiving sessions.

RELATED: Aussie gem you probably drove straight past

Surge in bookings across Western Australia

While the island always experiences high demand during the peak season of Christmas, this coming festive period saw more bookings than normal.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the week of December 27 to 31 were all booked and paid for by travellers, with the official booking authority listing May 3, 2021 as the next available date to book accommodation for New Year’s Eve.

Since Western Australia’s borders opened to other states and territories, various regions including the Margaret River and Broome have experienced a surge in enquiries and subsequent bookings.

Speaking to PerthNow, Seashells hotel general manager Deb Williams said that their hotel in Broome was fully booked until the end of the year.

“The last couple of months have been way busier than usual and we’re very full from now all the way to the end of school holidays in October,” she said.

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Kmart in Brandon Park Shopping Centre to close in January 2022 after Christmas


A Kmart in a popular shopping centre in Melbourne’s southeast will close within the next year after 37 years of operation.

On Monday it was revealed Kmart at Brandon Park Shopping Centre in is closing down, sparking speculation about the future of the centre.

A Kmart spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au the Brandon Park Kmart store will close just after Christmas.

“Our lease at Kmart Brandon Park is coming to an end and sadly this means our store will be closing after Christmas, on January 8 2022,” the spokesperson said.

“We would like to sincerely thank our customers for their ongoing support over the past 37 years.

“It’s been a pleasure welcoming you into store each day and we hope to see your faces at our local Kmart Clayton or Kmart Chadstone stores soon!”

Kmart said it would spend the next few months working to find redeployment opportunities for the staff.

“We’re happy to confirm that all permanent team members will been guaranteed jobs within the Kmart Group network of stores,” the spokesperson said.

Brandon Park has struggled for customers as it is so close to Chadstone Shopping Centre and The Glen.

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Judge to decide whether Edward Rowen murdered wife with elephant statue on Christmas Day in 2019


A Victorian Supreme Court judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to prove elderly Creswick man, Edward Rowen, murdered his wife of more than five decades on Christmas Day in 2019.

WARNING: This story contains details of alleged crimes that readers may find distressing.

Seven witnesses gave evidence during special hearings in front of Justice Lesley Taylor, which were held instead of a regular trial because Mr Rowen was deemed unfit to stand.

The 84-year-old has been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease — most likely Alzheimer’s — and a clinical psychologist who assessed him said he was not well enough to hold a conversation, follow court procedures or instruct his lawyers.

His 78-year-old wife, Rosalie Rowen, died in hospital hours after suffering severe head injuries caused by blunt force trauma inflicted in her lounge room on the night of December 25, 2019.

During the aftermath of the incident, Mr Rowen told neighbours, a passer-by who stopped to help and police that he had killed his wife by hitting her over the head with a wooden elephant statue.

The Rowens had been married for more than 50 years and had four adult children.

They lived in the house in Creswick, near Ballarat, independently.

Jelly shot dispute

Their eldest child, Catherine Boyd, appeared in court to explain the events of that Christmas Day leading up to her mother’s death.

During the afternoon, family members, including Edward and Rosalie, had gathered at a shed on a property at Mitchell Park, on Ballarat’s fringes, where one of their daughters was having a new house built.

Their granddaughter had made jelly shots containing vodka, which Ms Boyd said her father believed were desserts.

In an attempt to stop him from consuming one of the alcoholic jellies, his wife crushed a jelly shot in his hand and one of his daughters tried to prevent him accessing more.

“He wasn’t very happy about the whole idea,” Ms Boyd said.

Ms Boyd said a family member then told Mr Rowen to “stop being silly” and he sat down.

Mr Rowen and his wife said goodbye to their family and were dropped home by their grandson at about 8:00pm.

Witnesses rush to scene

Less than two hours later, Rebecca Pascoe was in a neighbouring house with her partner and his family when they became aware of Mr Rowen shouting for help on the road outside.

Ms Pascoe said Mr Rowen hugged her and told her he thought he had killed his wife.

Her partner called emergency services while Ms Pascoe went inside the house with another man and tried to assist Mrs Rowen, who was in the loungeroom, severely injured.

Ms Pascoe said Mr Rowen came back inside the house and asked if Mrs Rowen was going to be OK.

She said the injured woman squeezed her hand lightly but was otherwise unresponsive.

Meanwhile a young man, Miles Tait, who had been driving past the scene with his wife, stopped and made a separate call to emergency services.

Police cars and ambulances parked along a road at night time.
Bystanders and neighbours who came to help called emergency services to the Creswick house on Christmas Day in 2019.(

ABC News

)

‘Flew into a rage’

After the sole police officer working in the town that night, Senior Constable Jason Allison, had arrived and arrested Mr Rowen, he asked Mr Tait and another young man to ensure the elderly man stayed put while he went inside to check on Mrs Rowen.

During that time, the court heard, Mr Rowen told the men to leave him outside because he had killed his wife after he “flew into a rage” and explained that he had been drinking.

“He rambled on a bit more about how when he was drinking a bit earlier he got cut off and he was furious at the ladies there, and how when he got home he was still mad and wanted to drink,” Mr Tait told the court.

The court heard Mr Rowen made admissions about his involvement in attacking his wife to police at the scene, but after he was taken into custody a medical officer deemed him unfit to be interviewed.

His blood-stained clothing was seized and photographed and the elephant statue was located on the kitchen bench inside the house.

Following the special hearing, Mr Rowen was remanded in custody, with his fate to be decided by the judge after she hands down her decision on whether there’s enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he murdered his wife.

No history of offending

During the closing statements, prosecutor David Glynn told the court there was “abundant evidence” that it was Mr Rowen who inflicted the fatal injuries on Mrs Rowen.

“There was some evidence he was irrationally angry, including with Mrs Rowen … earlier that evening,” Mr Glynn said.

He also made reference to the admissions Mr Rowen made on the night, some of which were captured on police body-cameras and played in court.

Defence barrister Tim Marsh noted the difficulties of the case given the accused man was unfit to engage in the proceedings and said the nature of the alleged crime remained “inexplicable”.

He said the argument over jelly shots would be a “bizarre and outlandish motivation for a crime, given they were married for 60 years”.

“There is no prior history of criminal offending, or family violence,” Mr Marsh said.

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Roger Federer is like a kid at Christmas as he documents tennis return


This is the secret to Roger Federer’s incredible tennis success — a pure love of the game he’s never lost.

As some wonder why he’s bothering to return at age 39 after a year-long absence from the tour following two knee surgeries, the Swiss master has provided the evidence.

He’s as excited as a kid on Christmas morning just getting on an aeroplane to travel to his first tournament back in Doha.

Federer said Saturday it had “been a long hard road” but he was “pumped up” to play his first match since a semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January 2020.

The 20-time Grand Slam title winner also raised expectations of being the same player he was, declaring he was training well ahead of the Qatar Open.

“I’d like to thank all the people involved who made this possible,” the Swiss star said in a video message as he prepared to fly to the Gulf.

“It’s been a long and hard road, I’m not at the finish line yet but I feel I am in a good place.

“I’ve been practising very well and feel just really pumped up. I am in a good place and progressing really well.”

Federer, who will slip out of the top five next week, will have extra motivation on his return.

Monday will see Djokovic surpass Federer’s record of 310 weeks in the world number one ranking.

After Doha, Federer could play again in neighbouring Dubai but he will not travel to the United States for the Miami Masters.

Federer has also said he intends to play the European clay court swing this year ahead of Roland Garros which he won in 2009.

— with AFP

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Tamil family to stay on Christmas Island after Federal Court upholds previous ruling over youngest child’s immigration status


Lawyers for the family are now calling on the Federal Government to immediately release the family from detention.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3, had been living in Biloela in central Queensland, but in 2018 immigration officials transferred them to a Melbourne detention centre.

They remain in detention on Christmas Island off Western Australia after a last-minute injunction on an attempt to deport them to Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Federal Court ruled Tharunicaa was denied “procedural fairness” in an assessment by the Federal Government and ordered the Commonwealth to pay legal costs of more than $200,000.

The Federal Government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, and on Tuesday the court ruled that Justice Mark Mochinsky’s original ruling stands.

A separate appeal brought by the family was also rejected.

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Last Year’s Aussie Personal Credit Surged To $20 Billion

personal credit

Does This Mean Economic Confidence?

Amid major efforts to wind back debts, the amount of personal credit card debt owed by Australians in total amounted to a staggering $20 billion last year.

In recent data released by the Reserve Bank of Australia, it recorded that in November, the balances accruing interest on personal credit cards skyrocketed to $241.7 million to $19.96 billion.

This goes despite $7.44 billion being paid down on personal credit card debt over the course of the past 12 months amidst the pandemic.

Steve Mickenbecker, a finance expert from Canstar cited that despite the increase, many Australians have been taking charge of their credit card debt.

“COVID-19-plagued 2020 has been a period for tightening up the household finances for many Australians, with $7.44 billion cut off personal credit card debt. Opportunities to spend have contracted as a result of the lockdowns and a part of the $36 billion early release of superannuation has found its way into credit cards, extinguishing stubborn debt.”

He even speculated that it was not unexpected for Australians to use credit cards more leading into the holiday season.

According to Mr Mickenbecker, “The modest November increase in debt should not surprise, leading into Christmas and coming off a bumper Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We may have expected a bigger increase. The bigger picture remains one of restraint, hopefully, a trend that is sustained. “

He added that The Reserve Bank’s November report may spark promising hope to banks that the credit card business is picking up its pace. However, nobody wanted to see a return to the time when stubborn debt and impulse spending inflicted long term damage to customers.

Meanwhile, research director at RateCity.com.au, Sally Tindall, pointed out that this spending rate displays a renewed consumer confidence.

She said, “Australians went on a pre-Christmas shopping spree in November, spurred on by the Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.”

Emphasizing that as the economy revives from the recession, and every state out of lockdown, Australians are now secure enough to spend some cash.

“While this bump in spending is great for retailers, credit card holders should not get complacent, with debt accruing interest rising for the first time in almost two years,” she added.

Best Christmas Gifts for Mum 2020: Present ideas she will want this year


G

ift shopping can be an… experience, particularly when buying something for someone who means so much. 

Mums, and mother figures like your grandma, aunties and close family friends, can be notoriously tricky customers, whether they’re hard to shop for in the first place, or because a gift to her needs to convey the sorts of things that are difficult to wrap up in a bow.

Yet, there are special presents that will hit the mark, from gourmet hampers to indulgent beauty she’d never splash out on for herself.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer choice on offer, we’ve sifted through the selection to bring you a gift guide filled with things every mum is bound to love. Mother may know best, but we’ve got the right gift to bring her joy and happiness no matter the occasion.

Lola Rose London Mama Necklace

Treat your mum to the bling she deserves with this Mama necklace from London-based designer Lola Rose. For something as special as the starring lady in your life, it is crafted in sterling silver but available in gold, rose gold or rhodium plating. The letters are embellished with diamonds and set individually across the 37cm chain. We also love the iterations from cult LA jeweller Jennifer Meyer (£675), the playful Alison Lou (£705), Aurum + Grey (£260) and Rachel Jackson (£65).

( Wolf & Badger )

Roberts Beacon 320 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Dusty Pink

Whether she loves warbling along to ABBA while washing up or wants to catch up on podcasts in style, Roberts first ever Bluetooth speaker, the Roberts Beacon, is the perfect upgrade to her audio kit. It offers rich sound in multiple directions, and it’s portable too with 12 hour playback, so she can take it everywhere from the garden to trips out once spring arrives.

Available in a choice of three elegant colours.

( Roberts )

PUMA Suede VTG Trainers

For a suitably seasonal pair of new kicks, it doesn’t much more stylish than Puma’s suede pair, in a shade called High Risk Red. They’re available in an array of sizes and come with metallic gold logo detailing for that extra flair.

( PUMA )

Snail & Hare beauty gift vouchers

Small businesses need our support now more than ever. If you’re thinking about spoiling your mum with a chic new manicure, a facial or a relaxing massage, head to Snail & Hare, a new salon just off Oxford Street. We can vouch for the manicures; done with ethical vegan varnishes, you can add an array of cool nail art looks designed by the salon (so you won’t get it anywhere else).  

There are also packages to book in for head-to-toe pampering.

( Snail & Hare )

Rachel Jackson London Star Studded Bangle Gold

A simple piece of jewellery that will suit all tastes, this gorgeous gold bracelet is finished with tiny star etchings. Guaranteed to get the mum nod of approval. Also available in silver.

( Rachel Jackson London )

Lashify Control Kit

Salon trips are on hold for the time being, but you can still give the gift of fabulous lashes thanks to Lashify. Offering an easy way to DIY lash extensions at home, the starter kit will see her peepers framed with dark, dramatic lashes in no time at all. Application is a little fiddly to begin with, but once you’ve got the knack, applying the delicate lashes is a breeze – trust us, we’ve got the killer wink to prove it.

( Lashify )

Galerie du Thé

If your mum loves nothing more than relaxing with a fresh brew, open up her world with the delightful gift sets at luxury tea house, Galerie du Thé. There are artisan leaves from some of the world’s best producers – varieties include Black, Green, Oolong and White teas along with a selection of elegant accessories and teaware to make sure she gets the most out of every sip.

( Galerie Du The )

PortoVino Classic Collection bag

This innocent-looking bag has a boozy little secret – it can hide two whole bottles of vino (or 1.5L) in a zippered insulated pocket which will keep it chilled for hours. She can use it now for wintry park walks with her pals, and into the spring and summer for picnics and days out. The minimal design means it will go with everything and there’s plenty of room in the main compartment for all the essentials. Much chicer than a cool bag.  

( PortoVino )

Estee Lauder Limited-Edition Gold Advanced Night Repair, 50ml

Housed in a beautiful gold gift bottle, Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair may just be the show-stopping present you have been searching for. The hero product is a must for mature skin; simply smooth a few drops onto the face and neck before bed for glowing, younger-looking skin.

( Estee Lauder )

Jo Malone Midnight Musk & Amber Cologne, 100ml

Is she a fan of beautiful scents? If so, Jo Malone London is always a sure-fire win. This particular fragrance, Midnight Musk & Amber, was inspired by 20s railroad glamour and has a gorgeous faceted cologne bottle. It’s pure magic.

( Jo Malone London )

Bo-Kx

Flowers are a forever-favourite gift with mums, whether its for their birthday, Mother’s Day or an occasion like Christmas. While there are plenty of incredible florists to choose from, Bo-Kx is the latest to bloom onto the scene. Their USP? Instead of cards, they’re offering video messaging, where the recipient can scan a unique QR code to watch a video message from you on their phone. A very 2020 way to send a heartfelt message if you can’t be together this Christmas.

( Bo-Kx )

Edge of Ember x Inthefrow Orion Necklace – Gold

This stunning necklace of 18ct gold-plate with topaz stones is the perfect way to let your mum know how much you care. Made in collaboration with Inthefrow’s Victoria Macgrath, it’s inspired by the brightest conselltation in the night sky and is a simple but chic piece that’s bound to become her favourite piece in her jewellery box. Engraving and gift wrapping available.

( Edge of Ember )

One4all Gift Card

For the mums that are impossible to buy for, the One4all Gift Card covers all bases. Whether she wants to splash out on a new piece of homeware or update her 2021 wardrobe, this little card can help. Shop goods from more than 55,000 stores across the UK – think M&S, John Lewis, Rituals, H&M, Warehouse, The Perfume Shop, B&Q and lots more.

And if you’ve left getting her gift to the eleventh hour, the card can be sent directly to her phone by getting the One4all Digital Gift Card instead. Just be sure to load it up with a healthy amount to avoid a Christmas scolding – you can add anything from £10 to £120.

A gift card may seem impersonal, but for mums with particular or exacting tastes, it’s the perfect way to let her get what she really wants.

( One4all )

The White Company Cashmere Bed Socks

Gorgeously made and beautiful on the skin, these socks will save your mum from the scourge of chilly toes this winter. As well as this elegant camel shade, they come in pale blue, rose and clean white.

( the White Co )

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Over 52 Million Parcels Recorded On Australia Post’s Biggest Month Yet

December 2020 had been the biggest month Australia Post had in 211 years, with more than 52 million parcels delivered.

Australia Post had noted a 20 per cent increase the previous December due in part to the pandemic and more people preferring to shop online.

In just 19 days of the month, more than two million parcels were delivered across the country.

As per Rodney Boys, Australia Post’s Acting Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, while he expected the delivery service to have its busiest Christmas ever, the true volume exceeded expectations.

“There is no denying that online shopping grew strongly through 2020, and this reached a new level in December as millions of people chose to buy their Christmas gifts online. Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, social distancing and reduced domestic flights coupled with significantly higher parcel volumes meant that delivering Christmas 2020 for all Australians was always going to be incredibly challenging.”

Mr Boys added that 60 new or re-purposed facilities were opened, 3000 vehicles added to the fleet and more than 2700 labourers undertook supplementary training.

“These results were only made possible through the absolute commitment and dedication of our incredible team and our licensed post office and delivery contractor partners across the country that worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances for their communities to deliver a truly phenomenal Christmas,” Mr Boys said.

Meanwhile, Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts thanked Australia Post workers for dealing with the “unprecedented demand”.

It was just last December food and liquor sales skyrocketed up to 50 per cent, fashion rose 37 per cent and there was a 36 per cent increase in the sale of garden products in comparison to 2019.

(Image source: Bendigo Advertiser)

Retail spending surged ahead of Christmas



Retail spending in the run-up to Christmas was even stronger than first thought, with Melburnians particularly rampant at the shops after emerging from a lengthy lockdown.

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