May 23, 2014 – 11:57AM
MP George Christensen with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Nat Bromhead
Government backbencher George Christensen says he has received a death threat following comments he made about the federal budget and has accused Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of ”fanning this violence”.
Labor has called on the Prime Minister to immediately force the Liberal National MP to apologise for the ”offensive” comments and said threats of violence were never acceptable.
Mr Christensen, the LNP member for Dawson, stirred up anger on social media on Thursday when he tweeted that Australians complaining about the federal budget should get some perspective and do a ”tour of Asia and live like locals”.
The tweet, coupled with an image of an impoverished child from Cambodia, prompted an immediate backlash from Twitter users.
Australia is on the verge of signing a memorandum of understanding with the South-East Asian nation to send refugees to resettle there from Nauru.
Mr Christensen’s comments about Asia stand alongside a budget that rips $7.8 billion from foreign aid over five years.
On Friday morning, Mr Christensen tweeted that he had received a death threat.
“I received a death threat in relation to my comments re budget. This is where public discourse has sunk. Shorten is fanning this violence,” he wrote.
Mr Christensen could not be reached for comment on Friday and his office would not supply details of the alleged threat.
A spokesman for Mr Shorten said the suggestion that the Opposition Leader was somehow responsible was ”a disgusting new low for the Liberal Party”.
”If the Prime Minister has any sense, he’d instruct George Christensen apologise for this offensive and irresponsible statement,” he said.
”There is a right way and a wrong way to protest this unfair budget – making threats like this is never acceptable.”
Earlier this week Mr Shorten criticised student protesters who mobbed Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and former Liberals MP Sophie Mirabella at separate events at Australian universities.
Mr Christensen is not the first MP to receive death threats, with crossbenchers Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott receiving threats while they served in the Gillard minority parliament.
The chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society, John Falzon, criticised the MP’s comments on Thursday and said the public response reflected a deep feeling of injustice over a budget that ”hurts and humiliates” those doing it toughest.
Source : The Sydney Morning Herald
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Updated 12:17 PM Friday May 23, 2014
National Party MP Maurice Williamson talks to media outside his office in Pakuranga, after resigning as a minister. Details of new contact he had with police have been revealed. Photo / NZ Herald
Maurice Williamson called a senior police officer in Counties Manukau on a separate criminal case in which he “merely wished to pass on” that a complainant in a fraud case was “unhappy” that police were not going to lay charges.
On the day that Mr Williamson resigned from his ministerial posts, the Detective Inspector Dave Lynch wrote to Superintendent John Tims because of the publicity surrounding the MP and said that he had been contacted by the MP in late 2013.
The phone call from Mr Williamson in October or November 2013 was about a complex financial case where the complainant was advised that it was unlikely the police would lay criminal charges, said Mr Lynch, according to the memo released today under the Official Information Act.
“When Mr Williamson phoned me he reiterated at the start of the conversation that he was not seeking to interfere in any police investigation but merely wished to pass on what [redacted] had advised him that he was unhappy that [redacted] would probably not face charges.”
Mr Lynch was unaware of the details of the case and spoke with a colleague who said “the matter was quite complex but his current view was that police would be unable to reach the required level of evidential sufficiency to bring charges.”
There was no further contact from Mr Williamson, said Mr Lynch.
When Mr Tims referred the memo to Police National Headquarters on May 1, he said he had not had any conversations or dealings with the MP for Pakuranga about the matter.
Mr Williamson has not returned phone messages from the Herald today.
Earlier today the Herald revealed Mr Williamson asked a senior police officer to call him soon after learning the Herald was about to break a story that would ultimately lead to his resignation as a Minister.
Mr Williamson resigned from his ministerial portfolios this month after it was revealed that he twice called Superintendent John Tims, the Counties Manukau district commander, in January about the prosecution of wealthy businessman Donghua Liu for domestic violence offences.
Prime Minister John Key said the MP for Pakuranga had “crossed the line”, despite assuring him he did not intend to influence the prosecution.
A timeline of events released under the Official Information Act this morning shows that Mr Williamson’s office was provided with a copy of the emails that police planned to release to the Herald, which had also been given to the Prime Minister’s office under the ‘no surprises’ policy.
The note for the evening of April 29 states “Mr Williamson attempts to contact District Commander Tims”.
A spokesman for Police National Headquarters said Mr Williamson sent a text message to Mr Tims asking him to call.
“Superintendent Tims did not call or respond to the text.”
The emails released to the Herald on May 1 showed that Mr Williamson rang Mr Tims about the family violence allegations again Liu. Mr Tims referred the inquiry to his Auckland counterpart, Superintendent Mike Clement, on January 20.
A week later, Mr Williamson rang Mr Tims again, who again asked Auckland City to respond.
Mr Clement tasked Inspector Gary Davey to follow up the request and “determine how we respond to MP Williamson”.
“He [Mr Williamson] started by saying that in no way was he looking to interfere with the process,” Mr Davey reported back to his superiors.
“He just wanted to make sure somebody had reviewed the matter to ensure we were on solid ground as Mr Liu is investing a lot of money in New Zealand.”
Mr Davey said he told Mr Williamson the criminal case was reviewed by the senior sergeant in charge of family violence cases, as well as the police prosecution team.
In the emails Mr Davey said he told the MP the police would carry on with the prosecution.
“I also explained the wider responsibility of police to pursue these matters [redacted]. I told Mr Williamson that the best advice he can give Mr Liu is to have him seek good legal advice. The conversation was polite and professional on both sides and he appeared to be accepting of the police position. I will leave the matter there unless I hear otherwise.”
Liu has since pleaded guilty to male assaults female and assault with intent to injure and will reappear in the Auckland District Court next month.
After his resignation, Mr Williamson said he made five or six calls to police each year on behalf of people who approached him.
In Mr Liu’s case he said: “There was no intention to do anything about screwing the outcome, but just to work out the focus of it.
“When I hung up I literally did not see that that was anything other than what amember of parliament would normally do on behalf of somebody who had asked.
“However it has become clear that the police believe that it does cross a line, the Prime Minister thinks that it was inappropriate for me to have made the call.”
He said he was told of the December incident by a friend of Liu and was told by Liu’s interpreter there was confusion over the incident.
“I said I would find out from the police what the status of all this is and has it come to an end.”
Mr Williamson said he was not “friends” with Liu.
“It is pretty hard to have a friend that you cannot speak a word of their language and they of yours.”
Mr Williamson also lobbied a ministerial colleague to grant citizenship to Liu against official advice and performed the ceremony himself in his electorate office.
He also lobbied another National minister to relax the criteria for rich immigrants under the investment rules, which Liu also wanted changed before he goes ahead with a proposed $70 million property development which has stalled for three years.
Source : The New Zealand Herald
5:00 AM Friday May 23, 2014
Photo / file
An Air New Zealand flight was delayed after a woman walked on to the plane without a ticket.
Passenger Chris Murray’s flight home from Auckland to Wellington was delayed for about 30 minutes after the woman “walked right past staff at the gate” and on to his plane.
The woman had no boarding pass and walked past cabin crew at the door to sit down in the front row.
“She did not speak and sat down in the front row with her eyes closed refusing to communicate.”
Security were called to remove the woman, and members of the cabin crew and captain explained what was happening, Mr Murray said.
“They either need to review their [security] protocols or if their protocols actually do say that no one can get on the plane without scanning their barcode, or at least their boarding pass … then they need to be actually using that policy or enforcing their policy.”
Mr Murray, who travels with Air New Zealand about once a month, also said the door of the cockpit was left open while the captain dealt with the situation.
The woman had taken a seat in the front row, he said.
“If you know you’ve got someone on the plane, who you know is not meant to be there, and she’s sitting three feet from the cockpit – it just seems kind of weird to me.”
Staff who dealt with the woman were professional and handled the situation well, he said.
The flight departed once all security checks, including whether the woman had any baggage, were completed .
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said in a statement that the flight was delayed “when it was identified that a person who did not hold a boarding pass for that flight had boarded the aircraft”.
“The person was uncommunicative and refused to respond to crew questioning, which resulted in Aviation Security staff being called to remove her.”
The woman went through “all normal security screening procedures in order to pass into the departures area of the terminal, including having any luggage x-rayed”, she said.
Air New Zealand did not respond to further questions about how the woman boarded the aircraft without presenting a boarding pass.
An Aviation Security Service spokesman said the woman was arrested by police and issued with a trespass notice.
“We did everything we needed to do in terms of screening her. She got through that fine.”
Auckland Airport referred all queries on the incident to Aviation Security.
Source : The New Zealand Herald