Tony Mokbel eligible for compensation for $20m in seized assets


“There is clearly a statutory regime under sections 46 and 47 of the Confiscation Act that expressly provides for the setting aside of forfeiture upon the quashing of a conviction. And that’s happened.

“On the current state of the law, I would have thought he’s got a good case.

“This issue of unscrambling automatic forfeiture has, as far as I’m aware, never been raised before.”

Tony Mokbel’s Ferrari, seized in 2001.Credit:Wayne Taylor

On Monday, the Court of Appeal quashed Mokbel’s 2006 conviction for being knowingly concerned in the importation of three kilograms of cocaine smuggled from Mexico in 2001.

That charge was a key basis for Victoria Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to freeze assets worth at least $20 million at the time of his arrest in 2001.

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Among them was a country pub, former pizza shop, several houses, an apartment complex, horse farm, two shopping complexes and a development site in Brunswick, holiday flat in Noosa, Ferrari, Mercedes and several bank accounts.

A number of the assets were sold off to pay bank debts while he awaited trial, and following his conviction in absentia after he fled to Greece in 2006. The remaining were forfeited to the government by order of the County Court.

It remains unclear how much compensation the 55-year-old could qualify for, including whether he is entitled to receive an amount equivalent to the assets’ present-day value or interest on funds seized nearly two decades ago.

“The difficulty with undoing forfeiture is that other people have now acquired interests in the forfeited property and it seems that the only way of dealing with that is to pay monetary compensation rather than to return the forfeited property,” Mr Juebner said.

“I would have thought he is entitled to be compensated for the amount that he was deprived of at that point in time but at present day values.”

The Andrews government declined to comment on whether it would move to block any compensation payments by retroactively changing its asset seizure laws.

“Victoria’s confiscation scheme ensures that serious criminals do not benefit financially from their actions and that those who break the law will pay the price,” a spokeswoman said.

“The circumstances for the return of assets under the act are extremely limited and require an assessment on a case-by-case basis.”

Mokbel, who has not yet made any application to return the assets, is appealing against three other drug trafficking convictions. It has been estimated that by the time his drug empire was dismantled, law enforcement authorities had seized more than 60 properties, dozens of cars and motorcycles, and millions of dollars in cash and jewellery.

In the event he is exonerated in those cases, the government could be forced to compensate him for many of those forfeited assets.

Mokbel’s solicitor, Sarah Tricarico, did not respond to a request for comment.

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$250 Payment Roll-Out To 5 Million Aussies

Economic Support Payment

Here’s What You Need To Know

The “Economic Support Payment” is a new clash splash that pays two $250 payments – one to be paid in December 2020 and the other to be paid in March 2021.

More than five million Aussies are going to enjoy this provision for the coronavirus payment.

But there are prerequisites and eligibilities necessary to be able to avail to the Economic Support Payment.

As mentioned earlier, five million Australians will be paid, which means this is not a blanket payment that everyone could benefit.

Basically, if you have received the age pension, a carer allowance, a carer payment or if you have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or a Disability Pension you will be receiving the $250.

You’ll also receive it if you currently get a Double Orphan Pension, a Family Tax Benefit or hold a Pensioner Concession Card. You need to get an eligible payment or have an eligible card by November 27, 2020 (you cannot access it after the fact).

Should you receive the age pension, you will receive the two payments summing up to $500 and be divided into two pay periods.

The first sum of $250 will be rolled out today (December 2020) while the second $250 will start hitting eligible bank accounts from March 2021.

Given that you are eligible for payment, you don’t need to do anything as it will automatically be paid into your account. However, to get the December payment requires you to be eligible on November 27, 2020.

Should you fail to get an eligible payment or concession card, you will not be able to claim your Economic Payment Support.

Can older staff be made redundant to make room for staff eligible for JobMaker?


With the newly
announced JobMaker scheme incentivising hiring young people under 35, many are
concerned that older workers may be disadvantaged. Some critics point to a
scenario where older staff are made redundant, only to be replaced by younger
workers eligible for JobMaker. But is this actually legal?

What is JobMaker?

In an effort to
boost employment, the JobMaker Hiring Credit provides monetary incentives to
businesses to hire people currently on JobSeeker aged between 16 and 35 years
old. These new employees must be offered at least twenty (20) hours of work.

Businesses will receive
$200 a week when hiring an eligible worker aged 29 or under and $100 a week
when hiring an eligible worker between 30 and 35 years old. New jobs
created until 6 October 2021 will attract the JobMaker Hiring Credit for up to
12 months from the date the new position is created.

Will employers
be incentivised to terminate staff who aren’t eligible for Jobmaker?

All of this
begs the question, will employers be legally entitled to
make a position redundant only to turn around and hire a younger person for the
same or similar position? Certainly, there is a strong incentive to do so with
employers potentially standing to gain thousands of dollars in government
benefits.

If an employer opts
to go down this path, what are the risks? And is it actually legal?

What are
the legal considerations employers must make when making staff redundant?

If an employer makes a position redundant correctly and in accordance with the present law, they will not be in jeopardy of having committed an actionable offence. Therefore, it is extremely important that the classification of a position as redundant, be done properly and in accordance with all of the legal requirements.

A position can be found redundant if the following circumstances exist:

  • The employer no longer needs a particular job to be done by anyone.
  • The employer becomes insolvent or bankrupt.

In the event that the employer makes a position redundant, and then rehires a younger person via the JobMaker program to onboard and do the same job that was just made redundant, it is possible that this could be an actionable offence. The claim holder would be the person who was told their job was redundant. The claim would be that the employer turned around and hired someone younger to do the same job that the employer insisted was redundant.

However, in the event that an employer makes a job redundant and then hires a younger person (via JobMaker) to do a job that may be slightly similar to the redundant position, but includes several different or additional responsibilities, the issue of the new position being illegal becomes less viable. To arrive at this conclusion, the Court would most likely complete an analysis of the two positions. If the Court found that the new job was essentially a different job, then the laws regarding redundancy probably would not preclude the new job, or the new employee, from being hired via JobMaker.

It is highly recommended that if you are an employer and you do need to make positions redundant for economic reasons, that upon rehiring you ensure that you are not simply adding a younger person to do the same job you just categorised as redundant. Instead, be sure that the new position does have significant differences from the position which you claim you no longer need to be done by anyone.

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers





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Young workers now eligible for the $200 a fortnight JobMaker youth wage subsidy

The $4 billion JobMaker hiring credit was one of the more controversial aspects of last month’s Budget.

Despite some political argy-bargy along the way, the legislation has now passed Parliament. So what does it mean for businesses and young workers?

How will it work?

The hiring credit provides eligible employers with $200 a week for each additional staff member they hire between the ages of 16 and 29 years old, if that person has been receiving the JobSeeker, Youth Allowance (Other) or Parenting Payment.

Workers between the ages of 30 and 35 will also attract a subsidy of $100 a week.

The money will be paid to the business, rather than the worker, and the staff will need to have worked an average of at least 20 hours per week over their employment period.

How many jobs will it create?

The Government estimates the hiring credit will support 450,000 jobs, although only around 10 per cent of those positions are expected to be created as a direct result of the program.

Some job seekers, including people over the age of 35 and those who do not qualify for income support, are worried it could make it more difficult for them to find work.

Others feel like they are already being discriminated against by employers advertising exclusively for workers who will qualify for the subsidy.

The Government has defended the program, arguing young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and need extra help.

Have any changes been made to the program?

No. Labor moved two amendments in the Senate, with the help of the crossbench, aimed at making the scheme more transparent and preventing businesses from accessing the subsidy if they fire or cut the hours of another worker in order to obtain it.

The Government rejected those changes when the bill went back to House of Representatives, arguing they were unnecessary because the subsidy is not available to employers who fail to increase their headcount and payroll.

It also said existing safeguards in the Fair Work Act will continue to apply.

When the bill came back to the Senate it passed with the support of One Nation … without the amendments.

How quickly can the subsidy be accessed?

The wage subsidy will apply to new workers hired from October 7 onwards, although employers will need to wait until February 2021 to claim the money back.

Some businesses wanted that process to be sped up, but the Government defended it as an integrity measure.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg previously said the Australian Taxation Office would update its website on how businesses can claim the credit once the legislation has passed.



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Oscars: Drive-in films to be eligible for awards in 2021 | Ents & Arts News


Films shown at drive-in cinemas will be eligible for the Oscars in 2021, the Academy has announced.

The new rule has been approved by its board of governors for the best picture and general entry categories following the closure of movie theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after a move announced in April to allow films streamed online to be in the running. At the time, Oscars organisers said it would be a “temporary exception”.

Cinemas around the world were closed as the COVID-19 crisis hit but had been slowly reopening in recent weeks.

Image:
Grease is the ultimate drive-in film. Pic: Grease/Paramount/Park Circus

However, following renewed delays to key releases – such as new James Bond film No Time To Die – Cineworld announced this week that its screens will now be closed until 2021.

Separately, rival cinema chain Odeon revealed it is to switch to weekend-only opening at a quarter of its 120 sites.

The release of films including the new Batman outing and sci-fi story Dune have also been delayed in what has been a huge blow for cinema chains.

And when it comes to the ceremony itself, next year’s Oscars event has been pushed back from February to 25 April 2021.

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Drive-in cinemas are popular in the US and were trialled in the UK over the summer.

However, many events – as well as drive-in gigs, too – were later cancelled due to local lockdowns which came into force.

The new rule states that a theatrical run of only seven days is needed in one of at least six qualifying areas – Los Angeles County, City of New York, the Bay area of California (counties of San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo and Contra Costa, Chicago) Miami and Atlanta – and that drive-in theatres qualify as a commercial venue.



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Coronavirus Australia live news: Tasmanian workers now eligible for $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, PM Scott Morrison says



Why are only Victorians and Tasmanians entitled to pandemic leave and not the rest of the states?

-Not a Tasmanian

 

This is the question we’ve all been thinking, if not outright asking like you, Not a Tasmanian.

 

At the moment, all I can offer is that the payment is something Premier Peter Gutwein has been in talks about for a while now and an offer he said he accepted from the Federal Government a few weeks ago.

 

It’s just now been finalised.

 

It seems the Premier is being super cautious and very prepared. Tasmania has also struggled for some time with unemployment — especially youth unemployment.

 

He said earlier this month that while the state did not have any active cases, the state could not “become complacent and we remain vigilant and prepared to respond should the situation change”.

 

“The situation in Victoria is a stark reminder of what can happen should we let our guard down, and it is clear that we must do everything we can to ensure people are supported to do the right thing and not go to work if they feel unwell,” he previously said.

 

“Accordingly, the criteria for our existing pandemic assistance grant, currently available for low income individuals and families who are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19, will be extended to cover casuals and low income workers who are unable to work if they are awaiting a COVID-19 test result. This is $250 for an individual, or $1000 for a family.

 

“We will also be accepting the Commonwealth Government’s offer for a $1500 one off payment in the event someone is required to self-isolate or quarantine. The Tasmanian Government will also extend this to our temporary visa holders, ensuring everyone in Tasmania can be supported to do the right thing.”

 



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Thousands of Hong Kong residents eligible to stay in Australia as safe haven visa extension kicks in


When Claudia Ng* finished her studies at the Australian National University, she had intended to return to her native Hong Kong.

But the Chinese Communist Party’s rollout of a draconian national security law — which many see as the culmination of Beijing’s desire to heavily restrict freedoms in the supposedly semi-autonomous city — changed her mind.

“Before the national security law, I planned to develop my career in Hong Kong as all my family and friends are still there,” Ms Ng told the ABC.

“The law has a broad definition and you may violate the law even if you are just using social media to express anger or an opposite view with the Hong Kong Government.”

Ms Ng is one of 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders in Australia who have been automatically granted a five-year extension of their visas, providing a path to permanent residency — a measure introduced in light of recent political developments in the Chinese-controlled city.

The national security law, which came into effect on June 30, punishes the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with sentences of up to life in prison.

Claudia Ng says her plans for the future have changed due to radical changes in Hong Kong.(Supplied)

“Australia has a long history of attracting Hong Kong’s best and brightest who have contributed significantly to our economic growth and job creation, and we are committed to ensuring this is further strengthened,” Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.

“We know that recent events in Hong Kong mean that many highly talented individuals will want to remain in or relocate to a free, democratic country like Australia, and these new arrangements will ensure we’re attracting those who create jobs and opportunities for Australians.”

On top of the 10,000 people already in Australia, there were a further 2,500 visa holders outside Australia and 1,250 applications on hand, Home Affairs said.

Hongkongers fear everybody can be a target

Oliver Chu* is a Melbourne-based social worker who moved to Australia for his studies in 2014.

The 25-year-old told the ABC that while he had “absolutely” planned to return to Hong Kong in the past and take up a job in the public service, the current situation in the city meant now he intended to stay in Australia long-term.

“If you practice social work back home, it may mean that you’ll put yourself in jail.”

Mr Chu said his friends had urged him to stay in Australia.

“They are all trying to find ways to leave Hong Kong. So I feel very lucky to actually have a full-time job here,” he said.

Ms Ng said she was happy the Australian Government had provided an opportunity for Hongkongers to stay in the country, or “at least gain more time to obtain more marks for permanent residency”.

A spokesperson of the Australia-Hong Kong Federation said students in Australia or preparing to apply for Australian educational courses were grateful that the announcement would benefit them.

Sydney Chinatown.
Hong Kong-born people have a long history in Australia.(ABC News)

The spokesperson hoped that the Federal Government would reveal more details to attract small and medium enterprises from Hong Kong to relocate to Australia and speed up the review process for asylum seekers who were protesters from Hong Kong.

“We also hope that the Government will announce details of the pathway for permanent residency as soon as possible so that Hong Kong passport holders can plan their future life and career in advance,” the spokesperson said.

China says visa measures are interference in its domestic affairs

Home Affairs says Hongkongers who receive the five-year extension can apply for permanent residency after the five years, while those who study at a regional campus and choose to live in regional areas will be able to apply for permanent residency after three years.

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The Chinese embassy in Canberra previously declared Australia’s decision to extend the visas to be “a serious violation of international law” and “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

“Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs. The Australian side has been [claiming] that they oppose ‘foreign interference’. However, they have blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs by making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong-related issues,” it said.

Australia has joined other Western powers in condemning the draconian national security law and calling for “genuinely free, fair, and credible elections” in Hong Kong.

Authorities there have moved swiftly to weaken prominent anti-Beijing voices, including by arresting pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and prominent activist Agnes Chow.

The national security law has ended mass pro-democracy protests and has had a chilling effect on critical voices, given that the law covers even those outside of Hong Kong and mainland China.

People are detained by riot police during a march against national security law in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s national security law has put a stop to mass pro-democracy protests.(Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

“Hong Kong is a place that I love with its own food and culture. However, the culture and the environment has changed a lot during these years,” Ms Ng said.

“I feel unsafe going back to my own hometown. So I decided to stay in Australia.”

She said “quite a lot” of her friends were involved with pro-democracy activities in Hong Kong and some were in prison for illegal assembly.

*Names were changed to protect privacy.



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Female jockeys eligible for maternity leave in South Australia for the first time


Female jockeys in South Australia will be eligible for maternity leave for the first time, under a scheme announced by the state’s horse racing industry.

Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) is setting up the scheme to attract and retain more women, who now make up third of the state’s riders in what was once a male-dominated sport.

TRSA chief executive Nick Redin said many are inspired by trailblazers like South Australian jockey Clare Lindop, the first Australian woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup.

“Them seeing what she did has attracted females into our sport,” he said.

Up until now, many of those women were forced out of the industry if they decided to have a family, with rules banning pregnant women from riding after their first trimester.

It is something the TRSA’s apprentice training supervisor Briony Moore experienced first-hand, having to walk away from her career as a jockey 12 years ago.

“It was a very bitter sweet moment,” she said.

“You’re very excited that there’s that new phase of life but very sad in the sense that my career that I’d worked very hard for over the last four, five years and made massive sacrifices for come to an end pretty much just quite abruptly.”

Jockeys do not work for a single employer, and without an industry leave scheme, they are left with no income just three months into their pregnancy.

The new TRSA scheme will provide payments for the period between the first trimester and birth, based on the jockey’s last 12 months’ income, capped at $12,600.

Female jockeys now make up one third of South Australia’s riders.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Females ‘a lot more accepted’ in horse racing

Eran Boyd has been working as a jockey for 10 years and is on the Australian Jockey Association board.

She said the new scheme would make a big difference for women already in the sport, or considering it as a profession.

“I think women are a lot more accepted in the sport now and we’re moving forward every single year,” she said.

The TRSA scheme will begin immediately, but South Australia is not the first state to set one up.

New South Wales introduced a maternity leave scheme for jockeys in 2016, with Western Australia signing up to one late last year.

Briony Moore stands wearing a black top and grey coat
Briony Moore had to walk away from her career as a jockey 12 years ago.(ABC News: Michael Clements)



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Canberra woman eligible for compensation from driver after witnessing pedestrian being run over in car park



A Canberra woman who witnessed a pedestrian being run over in a car park is eligible for compensation from the driver, the ACT Supreme Court has found.

Justice John Burns awarded the woman $176,000 for witnessing the accident in the underground car park of the Canberra Outlet Centre in Fyshwick in November 2016.

Justice Burns found as a consequence of the driver’s negligence, the woman developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was therefore eligible for compensation.

The court heard, in November 2016, a driver reversed a vehicle into a man in the Fyshwick car park, knocking him to the ground.

According to court documents, the woman had been getting into her car when she heard a scream for help.

She looked over to see a man’s head and one of his arms protruding from under the vehicle, with his head very close to the wheel.

She ran to help, waving her arms to tell the driver to stop, and believed the man had been killed as he had stopped screaming.

Fortunately, the man was not badly injured.

Justice Burns said the woman’s action in running to the pedestrian’s aid may have prevented worse injury.

Drivers owe a duty of care to collision onlookers, court finds

The court heard the woman was so shocked from witnessing the accident that she became lost on the way home and had to call her husband for directions.

Days later, she suffered more problems, such as unexpected crying, not sleeping, and not being able to focus or remember things.

She took time off work but when she returned, she continued to be nervous, easily agitated, wary of cars moving about her, and socially withdrawn.

The court heard the woman sought help and was diagnosed with PTSD.

Earlier this year the woman launched legal action in the ACT Supreme Court alleging negligence against the driver for not paying attention while driving and not keeping the car under proper control.

But the defence argued that the driver did not owe her a duty of care, had not breached any duty, denied she had suffered an injury as claimed, and that the pedestrian was guilty of contributory negligence.

Justice Burns found in the woman’s favour and awarded her $176,000 for non-economic loss, lost wages and medical expenses.

“I am satisfied that the first defendant owed the plaintiff a relevant duty of care not to cause her mental harm,” his judgement said.

“I am satisfied that he breached that duty when he reversed the [car] without reasonable care, striking [the pedestrian] and causing him to fall to the ground under the rear of the [vehicle].



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