Placeholder Content Image

Aussie couple arrested and charged with spying for Russia

<p>An army private in the Australian Defence Force and her husband have been arrested after being accused of spying for the Russians.</p> <p>The Australian Federal Police arrested the 40-year-old soldier Kira Korolev and her 62-year-old labourer husband Igor Korolev at their Brisbane home on Thursday morning.</p> <p>They have been charged with preparing for an espionage offence.</p> <p>The woman has been employed by the ADF for several years as an information systems technician.</p> <p>It is alleged the Russian-born Australian citizens worked together to obtain sensitive information.</p> <p>AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the couple have been living in Australia for more than a decade after the woman received her citizenship in 2016, with her husband also becoming a citizen in 2020. </p> <p>The woman is accused of not declaring her travels to Russia during long-term leave from the ADF since 2023, both with and without her husband.</p> <p>While her husband remained in Australia, the woman is accused of instructing the man to log into her official work account and access information to send to her private email while she was in Russia.</p> <p>It is alleged this information related to Australia’s national security interests and was accessed a number of times with the intent of passing it on to Russian authorities.</p> <p>“Western democracies, including Australia, are being targeted by state actors, but Australia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies have the laws, capability and tradecraft to identify these spies and those seeking to undermine Australia’s interests,” Kershaw said on Friday.</p> <p>“So my direct warning is this, we know who you are. You are likely already exposed.”</p> <p>It is unknown if the information was passed on, or what the pair did while overseas, however the investigation is continuing.</p> <p>“Whether that information was handed over remains a key focus of our investigation,” Kershaw said. “Currently no significant compromise has been identified.”</p> <p>ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess said the “espionage threat is real”.</p> <p>“Multiple countries are seeking to steal Australia’s secrets. We cannot be naive and we cannot be complacent,” Burgess said.</p> <p>“Espionage is not some quaint Cold War notion. Espionage damages our economy and degrades our strategic advantage. It has catastrophic real-world consequences. Foreign intelligence services are capable, determined and patient."</p> <p>“They play the long game. The problem for them is ASIO does too,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: ADF</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Husband charged after wife’s tragic golf cart death on Hamilton Island

<p>A husband charged with the death of his wife has shared her chilling last words before she tragically died in a golf cart crash on their honeymoon. </p> <p>Robbie Awad, 32, and his new wife Marina Hanna, 29, were honeymooning in Queensland's Hamilton Island just 10 days after their wedding in June 2022, when the golf cart they were travelling in tipped over. </p> <p>Ms Hana died at the scene after doing into cardiac arrest.</p> <p>Ms Awad, who was driving the golf cart when it crashed and walked away uninjured, has pleaded guilty to three charges including not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving.</p> <p>Appearing in court on Thursday for the first day of his hearing, he pleaded not guilty to the charge of driving without due care and attention causing death. </p> <p>Taking to the witness stand, Mr Awad said the couple had decided to leave the resort to get something to eat before the crash. </p> <p>“We were leaving Qualia [resort] in the buggy, I was driving, I drove toward the exit of Qualia, I waited for the [gates] to open. We drove out of the gates at 5 or 4 km/h,” he said.</p> <p>The 32-year-old told the court that at the time of the crash, he was using his phone to follow directions, even though his wife warned him not to look at his phone while driving. </p> <p>“I was looking for directions on how to travel to the marina.”</p> <p>“My wife said, ‘Get off your phone’. I said, ‘What is the worst that could happen? No worries,’ and I put the phone in my pocket.’”</p> <p>Mr Awad said the couple decided to travel back to their resort after noting that the golf cart wasn't working properly, as it started to slow down when it began travelling up a hill. </p> <p>“I would estimate it was travelling less than walking speed. A very slow walk,” he said.</p> <p>“’By the time I got to the top of the hill, it was barely moving.”</p> <p>“[Once I got to the intersection] I could see it was very steep and I couldn’t see around the bend. I looked straight and saw there were no cars, the buggy was moving one metre every two seconds, so I drove the buggy into the flattest part.”</p> <p>He claimed the buggy accelerated unexpectedly, as he was making the U-turn. </p> <p>“As I was accelerating, I was moving the steering wheel, but because the buggy wasn’t moving, I ended up doing full turns, then I heard ‘vrrrroom’ and the buggy accelerated very quickly,” he said.</p> <p>“I started to have the thought, ‘Oh, the buggy might tip over,’ but by the time I could have finished the thought, it had already tipped over.”</p> <p>Mr Awad’s defence lawyer argued the “tragic accident” was caused by an issue with the battery in the golf buggy. </p> <p>“It fell over and killed his poor wife and he was devastated — and still is,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Daughter of former All Black charged over alleged hit and run death

<p>The daughter of former New Zealand All Black has been charged over an alleged hit and run that left a 65-year-old man dead in Auckland. </p> <p>Helena Jade Cribb, the daughter of Ron Cribb, was charged earlier this year after Jason Collins' body was found by a member of the public on O'Brien Rd, Lucas Heights in the early hours of December 7. </p> <p>The 22-year-old previously had a name suppression, which has now lapsed. </p> <p>Earlier this year, Detective Sergeant Ben Bergin said the driver allegedly involved had been identified not long after Collins' death. </p> <p>"A thorough investigation has been underway into the tragic circumstances by the Waitematā CIB and we have reached a point where charges have been filed," Bergin said.</p> <p>Collins has been remembered as a devoted father, husband and friend. </p> <p>"The tragic loss of Jason has left an unfillable void in our hearts," a statement on behalf of his family read. </p> <p>"...his absence is a constant ache, a relentless reminder of what we've lost.</p> <p>"Taken from us too soon, his departure is a profound and senseless blow that we struggle to comprehend.</p> <p>"Each day is a battle against the overwhelming emptiness left in his wake.</p> <p>"We ask for privacy at this time as we continue to grieve."</p> <p>The 22-year-old reportedly faces a charge of operating a vehicle carelessly, causing death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. </p> <p>She is set to reappear in court in September. </p> <p><em>Image: NZ Police</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Why you should be wary of charging your phone in an airport

<p dir="ltr">While charging stations at airports can often be life-savings before boarding a flight, it turns out these handy outlets can be leaving you vulnerable. </p> <p dir="ltr">Many people have fought over a spot to charge up your devices at the last minute before embarking on a holiday, but next time you leave home with your phone or laptop needing some more juice, think again. </p> <p dir="ltr">Emily Stallings, co-founder of tech retailer <em><a href="https://www.getcasely.com/">Casely</a></em>, says that by plugging your phone into a power outlet at a public USB charging station, you're at risk of data breaches and malware infection.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If a device gets infected, it could end up leaking sensitive information or even stop working properly," she told <em><a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/latest/charging-phone-at-the-airport-danger-expert/57d141df-33ba-4a50-89e5-26f6f2a0c18d">9Travel</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">These public USB ports have often been compromised by cybercriminals, who then use these unsecured ports to steal sensitive information transmitted between devices.</p> <p dir="ltr">"From personal emails to financial data, the information intercepted through these compromised ports could lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other serious consequences," explains Stallings.</p> <p dir="ltr">The best way to get around this threat, without letting your phone run out of battery, is to pack a portable charging device in your carry-on bag every time you travel.</p> <p dir="ltr">With your own cord and power bank, it's far less likely that any sneaky hackers will be able to access your device's data.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stallings says you can also enable security features such as USB Restricted Mode on your device, for those moments when you're desperate for a charger and have to rely on public ports. </p> <p dir="ltr">"This adds an extra layer of protection against potential data breaches and malware infections when charging from public USB ports."</p> <p dir="ltr">"By activating USB Restricted Mode or similar security features, you restrict data transfer over USB connections, effectively preventing unauthorised access to your device's data while charging in public spaces."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

Cops charged after allegedly assaulting 92-year-old

<p>Two police officers have been charged after allegedly assaulting a 92-year-old man in Sydney’s southwest.</p> <p>The officers attended a home at Campbell Street, Picton, after 8:45pm on January 21, following reports of a domestic incident. </p> <p>"The 92-year-old man received injuries which were allegedly the result of an interaction with the officers," a NSW Police statement reads.</p> <p>"He was taken to hospital where he was admitted with a fracture to his right elbow, and significant bruising to his head and arms."</p> <p>Following an internal investigation - which began the day after police attended the home - a male senior constable and a male constable, both from the South West Metropolitan Region, were given court attendance notices yesterday for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.</p> <p>The constable is also facing a further charge of assault. </p> <p>NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said that police responded to over 140,000 domestic violence matters every year and they review all the responses the following day. </p> <p>She also said that it was "too hard to say" whether a domestic violence matter took place at the home, and it appeared that a resident at the home had dementia. </p> <p>"It's obviously a complex matter when you have someone elderly, someone who has mental decline through dementia, or through something else, that can actually articulate any concerns to police properly."</p> <p>However, no-one has been charged with domestic violence. </p> <p>One of the officers will appear at Campbelltown Local Court on July 30, and the other is due to appear at the same court on August 6. </p> <p>Both officers will be suspended with pay. </p> <p><em>Image: Nine</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Cafe targeted online for charging customer a "heating fee"

<p>A cafe in Melbourne has copped a wave of backlash online after allegedly charging a customer to heat up his muffin for breakfast. </p> <p>The disgruntled diner took to Facebook to complain about the extra fee on his $7 muffin at the cafe and claimed the first he knew of it was when he saw it on his receipt.</p> <p>His post went viral with hundreds of people slamming café etiquette and urging him to go to the ACCC.</p> <p>"A f***ing dollar to heat my muffin? It's cr*p like this that just makes you shake your head and question where it is all going," the customer wrote in his original post.</p> <p>The cafe has since hit back at the post, and the angry customer who wrote it, saying the extra charge had been an error despite Heat Standard $1.00 being written on the receipt.</p> <p>They also said the customer could have simply solved the issue in person rather than blasting them online.</p> <p>"We do not nor have we ever charged for any heating of our wonderful baked treats," the café spokesperson told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/real-life/article-13465591/Melbourne-cafe-targeted-angry-mob-charging-1-heating-fee-muffin-Aussies-reveal-hidden-charges-theyve-hit-amid-cost-living-crisis.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>.</p> <p>"Unfortunately this has become a mountain of an issue that could have easily been resolved without a lynch mob caused by negligence at the hands of an influential keyboard warrior who ironically sells the idea of spiritual life practices and being grounded yet flipped out over a muffin."</p> <p>The original post racked up more than 870 comments before it was deleted, and more than 1,000 reactions.</p> <p>Some of those who saw it went on to slam the cafe by sending them threatening messages, commenting on posts on Instagram and calling their business phone to hurl abuse. </p> <p>"It's a sad world when a local cafe that aims for nothing more then customer satisfaction and community values to be upheld gets threatening messages from rogue vigilantes about wanting to see us go out of business over a muffin being prepared and served to quality standards," the cafe owners said.</p> <p>The cafe responded to the growing backlash online by announcing their muffins would be free on Tuesday.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font" style="margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px; min-height: 0px;"><em>Image credits: Facebook / Shutterstock </em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Singer Kamahl faces stalking charges

<p>Singer Kamahl is facing stalking charges, after a woman 50 years his junior said she was stalked and harassed by the entertainer. </p> <p>The woman who has not been named, has applied for an apprehended violence order (AVO) against the 89-year-old singer.</p> <p>The accusations include one count of stalking with intent to cause fear, with the matter set to be heard at Sutherland Court in Sydney next month.</p> <p>The accusations stem back to May 2023, when Kamahl was invited to the woman's house to discuss business funding. </p> <p>As a result of their meeting, Kamahl deposited $2,000 into her account, and the woman allegedly agreed to repay this amount in $5 weekly instalments.</p> <p>The dispute arose when the woman began labelling her online banking transactions as "to the molester", despite Kamahl denying any inappropriate misconduct. </p> <p>Following the transaction, a series of text messages were sent between the pair, where the woman claims she was threatened by Kamahl. </p> <p>In one of the texts, the woman warned Kamahl about his behaviour being unacceptable, suggesting would go to the police if it were to continue.</p> <p>“I just wanted you to know that your behaviour is unacceptable and you’re lucky I haven’t gone to the authorities,” a text from the woman to Kamahl read.</p> <p>“You are a liar, and a failure, and most of all an ungrateful b****. The best is yet to come!” Kamahl responded.</p> <p>Kamahl has denied any misconduct, blaming his furious response on not taking his medication and said his actions were a response to provocation rather than unkindness.</p> <p>“I’m an 89-year-old man... I was not being unkind I was responding to a situation without all of my faculties,” Kamahl told <em>9News</em>.</p> <p>“I’m not worried, meaning that it is what it is, any publicity is better than no publicity, I’m sure about that.”</p> <p>Despite the allegations and upcoming court date, Kamahl seemed unfazed about the public issue.</p> <p>“Any publicity is better than no publicity,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Charges dropped for Hunter Valley bus driver

<p>The driver responsible for the Hunter Valley bus crash that claimed the lives of 10 people has had major charges dropped as he faced court. </p> <p>Brett Andrew Button, 59, faced Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday, as all 10 manslaughter charges were dropped as part of a deal struck with prosecutors. </p> <p>As part of the deal, Button pled guilty to a string of other charges, including 10 counts of dangerous driving causing death, nine counts of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and 16 counts of furious driving causing bodily harm.</p> <p>Another 25 charges of causing bodily harm by misconduct were also withdrawn.</p> <p>He was not yet required to enter pleas to back-up charges including negligent driving causing death.</p> <p>Since his first arrest, Button had been on bail after initially being granted release due to mental health and wellbeing concerns should he be kept in custody.</p> <p>However, he has now been remanded into custody on remand to await sentencing.</p> <p>The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) declined to comment on the reason for the manslaughter charges being withdrawn.</p> <p>Mr Button was arrested after allegedly losing control of a bus that was transporting 35 wedding guests to a reception in the NSW Hunter Valley. </p> <p>The bus rolled over at a roundabout near Greta, killing 10 people and injuring 25 others. </p> <p>Mother and daughter Nadene and Kyah McBride, Kyah’s boyfriend Kane Symons, husband and wife Andrew and Lynan Scott, Zach Bray, Angus Craig, Darcy Bulman, Tori Cowburn and Rebecca Mullen all died in the impact.</p> <p>Button has previously apologised for the incident, telling reporters outside court in March he was “devastated by what has occurred” and that he was “truly and deeply sorry”.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Erin Patterson enters plea for murder charges

<p>Erin Patterson will face trial in the Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to eight charges of murder and attempted murder. </p> <p>The 49-year-old is accused of killing her former in-laws, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, and Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson, 66.</p> <p>All three <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/erin-patterson-arrested-over-fatal-mushroom-meal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">died </a>in hospital days after consuming an allegedly poisonous mushroom lunch at Patterson's home in South Gippsland July 29, 2023. </p> <p>She is also accused of the attempted murder of Heather Wilkinson’s husband Ian, and four separate attempts on her ex-husband’s life, with three occasions dating back to 2021.</p> <p>Patterson appeared <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday,</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> and pleaded not guilty to all eight of her charges, including three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Patterson told Magistrate Tim Walsh, "not guilty, Your Honour", as he read each of the charges. </span></p> <p>Her barrister, Colin Mandy SC, confirmed that she was going to use the “fast-track” method to have the case sent to the Supreme Court. </p> <p>The fast track method allows homicide cases to skip a committal hearing where a magistrate hears the evidence and decides if it could support a conviction.</p> <p>Walsh told Patterson hat under the fast track method, he did not have to judge the evidence and could commit her “solely on her election”.</p> <p>The decision also means that details of the prosecution case and her defence will not be aired publicly until after the trial. </p> <p>Patterson was arrested last November but has repeatedly denied the allegations. </p> <p>She was remanded in custody and will appear for a directions hearing at the Supreme Court on May 23. </p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Samantha Murphy's alleged killer faces fresh new charges

<p>The man accused of murdering Samantha Murphy has been hit with fresh charges over a drug and alcohol-fuelled bender.</p> <p>Patrick Orren Stephenson, 22, who has been charged with murdering Ms Murphy, has been slapped with several drink and drug driving charges after he allegedly crashed a motorbike into a tree on the night of October 1st. </p> <p>He has also been also charged with careless driving.</p> <p>A former friend of Stephenson told the <a href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/accused-samantha-murphy-killer-patrick-stephenson-charged-with-driving-offences/news-story/1ce6e68acdb7575b876f9e7f9100f285" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Herald Sun</em></a> the crash occurred following an AFL Grand Final gathering that kicked off in the afternoon and ran late into the night.</p> <p>Stephenson was first arrested in connection with the Ballarat mother's disappearance on March 7th, weeks after the 51-year-old was last seen alive. </p> <p>Samantha Murphy was last seen by her loved ones on the morning of February 4th when she went to go on her daily morning run in the Canadian State Forest. </p> <p>Stephenson has been charged with one count of murder, and is said to not be cooperating with police in efforts to find her body. </p> <p>The new charges come after police have continued their gruelling search for Ms Murphy, three months after she went missing. </p> <p>Despite numerous searches, Victoria Police detectives appear no closer to finding  her body despite having her alleged killer in custody. </p> <p>A Victoria Police spokesperson told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/melbourne/article-13374863/Alleged-killer-Samantha-Murphy-fresh-charges-Victoria.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a> this week that the investigation remained "very much active and ongoing". </p> <p>"We are continuing to do all we can to locate her," the spokesperson said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine </em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Two men charged over felling of iconic Sycamore Gap tree

<p>Two men have been charged with cutting down the iconic Sycamore Gap tree in northern England. </p> <p>Daniel Graham, 38, and Adam Carruthers, 31, were charged with causing criminal damage to the tree and damaging Hadrian’s Wall, which was built by Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 to guard the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire.</p> <p>The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) added that they will appear in the Newcastle Magistrates Court on May 15.</p> <p>“There has been an ongoing investigation since the Sycamore Gap tree was cut down," <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">said </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney, the Senior Investigation Officer on the case. </span></p> <p>“As a result of those inquiries, two men have now been charged.</p> <p>“We recognise the strength of feeling in the local community and further afield the felling has caused, however we would remind people to avoid speculation, including online, which could impact the ongoing case.”</p> <p>According to <em>The Sun</em>, the two men were arrested back in October and released on bail. </p> <p>The iconic tree became internationally famous when it was used for a scene in Kevin Costner's 1991 blockbuster film <em>Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. </em></p> <p>The felling caused widespread <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/you-can-t-forgive-that-teen-arrested-after-felling-of-iconic-200-year-old-tree" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outrage</a> at the time, as police tried to find the culprit behind the "deliberate" act of vandalism. </p> <p>Efforts are currently underway to see if the tree can be regrown from the sycamore's stump, with The National Trust hoping that a third of the seeds and cuttings it collected from the tree could be planted later on. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Woolies faces up to $10b fine after pleading guilty to 1000 charges

<p>In what seems like a cascade of misfortune for Woolworths, the retail giant has found itself embroiled in yet another controversy.</p> <p>A week fraught with bad press took a turn for the worse when outgoing CEO Brad Banducci <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/last-chance-mr-banducci-woolies-ceo-threatened-with-jail-time" target="_blank" rel="noopener">faced the threat of jail time</a> for his refusal to address questions in a Senate inquiry probing supermarket price gouging. Now, the company is grappling with the repercussions of admitting to underpaying over a thousand former Victorian employees for their long service leave entitlements.</p> <p>The admission, made in a Melbourne court, revealed that Woolworths fell short in compensating at least 1,235 former workers, amounting to a staggering $1.24 million in underpayments spanning from November 2018 to January 2023. While some employees were owed only modest sums, others were deprived of significant entitlements, with figures reaching up to $12,000 in the most severe cases.</p> <p>The Melbourne Magistrates' Court learned that Woolworths, alongside its related company Woolstar, breached Victoria's Long Service Leave Act on a startling 1,227 occasions. The revelation came to light during an internal audit of the company's IT systems, prompting Woolworths to self-report the discrepancies to Victoria's Wage Inspectorate.</p> <p>Woolworths' barrister, Saul Holt KC, highlighted the company's commitment to rectifying the situation, after discovering the discrepancies during an audit of its IT systems and self-reporting it to Victoria's Wage Inspectorate. "That's just the right thing to do," he said.</p> <p>However, the gravity of the breaches places Woolworths at risk of facing a potentially astronomical fine, with a theoretical maximum exceeding $10.25 billion. While such a penalty could spell financial catastrophe for many, including a corporate behemoth like Woolworths, legal experts suggest that a more realistic figure would be capped at approximately $480,000, in line with typical penalties in Victorian magistrates courts.</p> <p>The magistrate presiding over the case, Nahrain Warda, has deferred her decision until Wednesday, April 24, leaving Woolworths in a state of uncertainty. In addition to the impending financial penalty, Kathleen Crennan, representing the Wage Inspectorate of Victoria, advocated for Woolworths to be convicted, denouncing the underpayments as inexcusable. "There's really no excuse for this to have happened in the first place," she said.</p> <p>In the face of mounting legal challenges and public scrutiny, Woolworths' reputation as an employer is under scrutiny. Despite assertions of being an "exemplary employer", founded on principles dating back to 1924, the company's track record is marred by repeated instances of underpayment scandals. </p> <p>As Woolworths awaits the magistrate's verdict and braces for the fallout from its legal battles, the spectre of underpayment casts a long shadow over the company's corporate governance and raises broader questions about accountability within the retail industry.</p> <p><em>Images: Woolworths</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Michael Slater hit with 19 charges over alleged domestic violence

<p>Michael Slater, a former Australian Test cricketer is being held in police custody after being charged with more than a dozen offences over alleged domestic violence. </p> <p>Slater, 54, had his case briefly heard in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Monday.</p> <p>It was reported by the <em>ABC </em>that he did not appear and no plea was entered.</p> <p>The charges include domestic violence offences of unlawful stalking or intimidation, breaking into a dwelling with intent at night, common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and choking or suffocation.</p> <p>The 19 charges relate to offences allegedly committed on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast between December 5, 2023 and April 12 2024.</p> <p>Slater was also charged with breaching bail and and 10 counts of contravening a domestic violence order. </p> <p>He was then remanded in custody, with his case mentioned in the same court on Tuesday afternoon.</p> <p>During that second hearing, Slater <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">collapsed in court after failing in his bid for freedom over an alleged domestic violence incident. </span>Upon learning that his bid for bail had been refused, the former cricket great placed his head in his hands then collapsed while being led back to the cells by Corrective Services staff.</p> <p>Slater made his debut during the 1993 Ashes tour and played 74 tests for Australia. </p> <p>He amassed 5,312 runs and played 42 one-day internationals. </p> <p>Since retiring from cricket in 2004, he has had a successful TV commentary career. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Why do airlines charge so much for checked bags? This obscure rule helps explain why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p>Five out of the six <a href="https://www.oag.com/blog/biggest-airlines-in-the-us">biggest U.S. airlines</a> have <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/05/delta-is-the-latest-airline-to-raise-its-checked-bag-fee.html">raised their checked bag fees</a> since January 2024.</p> <p>Take American Airlines. In 2023, it cost US$30 to check a standard bag in with the airline; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2024/02/20/american-airlines-bag-fees-mileage-earning/72669245007/">today, as of March 2024, it costs $40</a> at a U.S. airport – a whopping 33% increase.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/">business school</a> <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/profile/jay-zagorsky/">professor who studies travel</a>, I’m often asked why airlines alienate their customers with baggage fees instead of bundling all charges together. <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/4/16/8431465/airlines-carry-on-bags">There are</a> <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/2023/06/21/bag-fees-will-stay-a-while-cruising-altitude/70338849007/">many reasons</a>, but an important, often overlooked cause is buried in the U.S. tax code.</p> <h2>A tax-law loophole</h2> <p>Airlines pay the federal government <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D">7.5% of the ticket price</a> when <a href="https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/tax/library/aircraft-club-nov-2023-air-transport-excise-tax-rates-for-2024.html">flying people domestically, alongside other fees</a>. The airlines dislike these charges, with their <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation/">trade association arguing</a> that they boost the cost to the consumer of a typical air ticket by around one-fifth.</p> <p>However, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-8">specifically excludes baggage</a> from the 7.5% transportation tax as long as “the charge is separable from the payment for the transportation of a person and is shown in the exact amount.”</p> <p>This means if an airline charges a combined $300 to fly you and a bag round-trip within the U.S., it owes $22.50 in tax. If the airline charges $220 to fly you plus separately charges $40 each way for the bag, then your total cost is the same — but the airline only owes the government $16.50 in taxes. Splitting out baggage charges saves the airline $6.</p> <p>Now $6 might not seem like much, but it can add up. Last year, passengers took <a href="https://www.transtats.bts.gov/Data_Elements.aspx?Data=1">more than 800 million trips on major airlines</a>. Even if only a fraction of them check their bags, that means large savings for the industry.</p> <p>How large? The government has <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/baggage-fees-airline-2023">tracked revenue from bag fees</a> for decades. In 2002, airlines charged passengers a total of $180 million to check bags, which worked out to around 33 cents per passenger.</p> <p>Today, as any flyer can attest, bag fees are a lot higher. Airlines collected over 40 times more money in bag fees last year than they did in 2002.</p> <p>When the full data is in for 2023, <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/baggage-fees">total bag fees</a> will likely top $7 billion, which is about $9 for the average domestic passenger. <a href="https://viewfromthewing.com/the-real-reason-airlines-charge-checked-bag-fees-and-its-not-what-you-think">By splitting out the cost of bags</a>, airlines avoided paying about half a billion dollars in taxes just last year.</p> <p>In the two decades since 2002, flyers paid a total of about $70 billion in bag fees. This means separately charging for bags saved airlines about $5 billion in taxes.</p> <p><iframe id="88MYD" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/88MYD/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>It seems clear to me that tax savings are one driver of the unbundling of baggage fees because of a quirk in the law.</p> <p>The U.S. government doesn’t apply the 7.5% tax to <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-3">international flights that go more than 225 miles</a> beyond the nation’s borders. Instead, there are fixed <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation">international departure and arrival taxes</a>. This is why major airlines charge $35 to $40 <a href="https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/baggage/checked-baggage-policy.jsp">for bags if you’re flying domestically</a>, but don’t charge a bag fee when you’re flying to Europe or Asia.</p> <h2>Do travelers get anything for that money?</h2> <p>This system raises an interesting question: Do baggage fees force airlines to be more careful with bags, since customers who pay more expect better service? To find out, I checked with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which has been <a href="https://www.bts.gov/content/mishandled-baggage-reports-filed-passengers-largest-us-air-carriersa">tracking lost luggage for decades</a>.</p> <p>For many years, it calculated the number of mishandled-baggage reports per thousand airline passengers. The government’s data showed mishandled bags peaked in 2007 with about seven reports of lost or damaged luggage for every thousand passengers. That means you could expect your luggage to go on a different trip than the one you are taking about once every 140 or so flights. By 2018, that estimate had fallen to once every 350 flights.</p> <p>In 2019, the government <a href="https://www.bts.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/number-30a-technical-directive-mishandled-baggage-amended-effective-jan">changed how it tracks</a> mishandled bags, calculating figures based on the total number of bags checked, rather than the total number of passengers. The new data show about six bags per thousand checked get lost or damaged, which is less than 1% of checked bags. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t show improvement since 2019.</p> <p>Is there anything that you can do about higher bag fees? Complaining to politicians probably won’t help. In 2010, two senators <a href="https://www.nj.com/business/2010/04/us_senators_present_bill_to_ba.html">tried to ban bag fees</a>, and their bill went nowhere.</p> <p>Given that congressional action failed, there’s a simple way to avoid higher bag fees: <a href="https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/packing-expert-travel-world-handbag/index.html">travel light</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/08/opinion/carry-on-packing-airlines-lost-luggage.html">don’t check any luggage</a>. It may sound tough not to have all your belongings when traveling, but it might be the best option as bag fees take off.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225857/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, Associate Professor of Markets, Public Policy and Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-airlines-charge-so-much-for-checked-bags-this-obscure-rule-helps-explain-why-225857">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Man charged over alleged hit-and-run of Mitch East

<p>Last weekend, news broke of the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/police-investigate-after-young-lawyer-killed-in-cowardly-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tragic death</a> of 28-year-old lawyer Mitch East in an alleged hit-and-run crash. The incident, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, March 17, sent shockwaves through the community and left loved ones grappling with profound grief and disbelief.</p> <p>Now, <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13226237/Breakthrough-alleged-hit-run-killed-Sydney-lawyer-Mitch-East-Tamarama.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to reports</a>, the alleged perpetrator, a 63-year-old man, has turned himself in to authorities and has been charged with a litany of driving offences, including failing to stop and assist after the crash, dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death, and the use of a mobile phone when not permitted. The arrest, which took place at Granville Police Station, marks a significant development in the ongoing pursuit of justice for East and his grieving family.</p> <p>East, a native of New Zealand, had embarked on a promising legal career that took him across continents. Having studied at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University in the United States, his recent relocation to Australia was met with excitement and anticipation for the opportunities that lay ahead. Tragically, his journey was cut short just moments away from the Tamarama home he shared with his partner, as he was struck down in the early hours of the morning.</p> <p>For East's family, the loss is immeasurable. His mother, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/find-that-car-mother-of-fallen-young-lawyer-speaks-out" target="_blank" rel="noopener">speaking in the wake of the tragedy</a>, described her son as her "reason for living". Beyond familial ties, East's impact extended far and wide, touching the lives of friends, mentors and peers who were drawn to his charisma and dedication to justice.</p> <p>Employed at the esteemed law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler in Sydney's CBD, East was celebrated not only for his legal acumen but also for his warmth and camaraderie among colleagues. In a heartfelt message addressed to staff, the firm paid tribute to East as a "highly talented lawyer and popular and valued member", acknowledging the irreplaceable void left by his loss.</p> <p><em>Images: GoFundMe | NSW Police</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

New details emerge in Samantha Murphy murder charge

<p>The unsettling disappearance of Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy took a grim turn as Victoria Police made a significant breakthrough in the case, now alleging that Murphy's disappearance was not a random event but a deliberate act of murder that occurred on the very day she went missing.</p> <p>Authorities apprehended a 22-year-old Scotsburn man at a residence around 6am on Wednesday, shedding light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Murphy's vanishing. The individual, whose identity was initially protected under a suppression order, has been formally charged with one count of murder and appeared in court on Thursday.</p> <p>Just before midday on Friday, that gag order was overturned, with several media outlets <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13170739/patrick-orren-stephenson-patrick-afl-samantha-murphy-alleged-killer.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">identifying the accused</a> as Patrick Stephenson, the only son of retired AFL footballer Orren Stephenson.<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span></p> <p>Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton, in a press briefing, revealed that detectives subjected Stephenson to more than 30 hours of questioning following his arrest, and reiterated that the alleged murder was not a result of a hit-and-run accident but rather a premeditated act. While declining to delve into specifics, Patton refrained from speculating on the involvement of a vehicle or drugs and alcohol.</p> <p>"I'm not going to speculate on any other details about the death other than it was deliberate," Patton said. "He's been charged with murder, so by its definition, we're saying this was a deliberate act."</p> <p>Stephenson made his court appearance amid concerns regarding his age and lack of prior custodial experience. Defence attorney Daniel Tamineka also highlighted the potential risks of self-harm faced by his client.</p> <p>One poignant detail that emerged from Patton's statements is the suspect's refusal to disclose the location of Samantha Murphy's remains. Despite facing charges, he has yet to provide crucial information to aid in locating her body, prompting police to vehemently oppose any bail requests.</p> <p>The community's collective effort to support the investigation has been commendable, with Patton urging continued cooperation to bring closure to Murphy's family.</p> <p>In an emotional statement, Murphy's husband, Mick, expressed a mix of emotions following news of the arrest. Despite the relief of progress in the case, he acknowledged the toll the past weeks have taken on him and his family. The outpouring of support from the community, however, has served as a source of strength during this trying time.</p> <p>Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt echoed sentiments of gratitude toward the community for their unwavering assistance throughout the investigation. "Our thoughts today are with Samantha's family and friends," he said. "I know that Samantha's disappearance has had a profound impact on the Ballarat community and I want to thank all of those people who have assisted police in many different ways over the past month."</p> <p>As the inquiry progresses, authorities continue to appeal for any individuals possessing relevant CCTV or dashcam footage to come forward.</p> <p><em>Images: Supplied</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Supermarkets, airlines and power companies are charging ‘exploitative’ prices despite reaping record profits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384">Sanjoy Paul</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians have been hit by large rises in grocery, energy, transport, child and aged care prices, only adding to other cost of living pressures.</p> <p>While extreme weather and supply delays have contributed to the increases, an inquiry into what’s causing the hikes has confirmed what commentators and consumers suspected - many sectors are resorting to dodgy price practices and confusing pricing.</p> <p>Headed by the former Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) boss, Allan Fels, on behalf of the ACTU, the inquiry found inflation, questionable pricing practices, a lack of price transparency and regulations, a lack of market competition, supply chain problems and unrestricted price setting by retailers are to blame for fuelling the increases.</p> <p>The inquiry, which released its <a href="https://www.actu.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/InquiryIntoPriceGouging_Report_web9-1.pdf">final report</a> on Wednesday, is one of four examining price rises. The other three are being undertaken by a Senate committee, the Queensland government and the ACCC, which has been given extra powers by the government.</p> <h2>Prices vs inflation</h2> <p>The inflation rate in Australia peaked at <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release">7.8%</a> in December 2022 and has been gradually dropping since then.</p> <p>While the inquiry found higher prices contributed to inflation, it reported that businesses claimed it was inflation that caused price rises - making it a chicken-or-egg kind of problem.</p> <p>However, many businesses made enormous <a href="https://theconversation.com/amid-allegations-of-price-gouging-its-time-for-big-supermarkets-to-come-clean-on-how-they-price-their-products-219316">profits</a> in 2022-23, which the inquiry said contributed to rising prices and inflation. In most cases, post-pandemic profit margins were much higher than before the pandemic.</p> <h2>How prices are set</h2> <p>Business pricing strategies had a big impact on product prices.</p> <p>In Australia, businesses often provided partial and misleading pricing information which differed from the actual price. For example, supermarkets were “<a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/accc-warns-supermarkets-about-discount-claims-20240114-p5ex1s">discounting</a>” products by raising prices beforehand.</p> <p>These practices helped raise prices and were “exploitative”, the inquiry found.</p> <p>A lack of transparent pricing information caused a poor understanding by consumers of how prices were set. This was significantly worsened by a lack of competition. While market concentration was a major issue, the inquiry found prices in Australia are way higher than in many other less competitive markets.</p> <p>Large price increases occurred across many sectors:</p> <p><strong>AVIATION</strong></p> <p>While it is free to set any price for airfares, Australia’s largest and highest profile aviation company, Qantas, has been <a href="https://www.thenewdaily.com.au/life/2023/12/28/qantas-deceptive-conduct-accc">accused</a> of price gouging since the pandemic.</p> <p>According to the inquiry report, Qantas made a profit of $1.7 billion in 2023 - 208% higher than in 2019. At the same time, its reputation has been badly damaged by unreliable timetables, lost baggage and so-called <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/qantas-files-legal-defence-refutes-accc-case-and-ghost-flight-claims/9a6296c9-9238-4053-9f36-cc3cbf1f8a55">“ghost” flights</a> (selling tickets for a flight that’s been cancelled or doesn’t exist).</p> <p>Despite its huge profits and poorer service, Qantas passed on extra expenses to consumers in the form of higher airfares, the inquiry found.</p> <p><strong>BANKING</strong></p> <p>The banking industry has a long history of being tardy in passing on the Reserve Bank’s cash rate cuts to consumers. However, when the reserve raised the cash rates, banks immediately increased their standard variable rates and passed them on to customers. This practice keeps the bank’s profit margin higher.</p> <p>According to the inquiry report, the major banks’ average profit margins have been higher since May 2022 than in the 15 years before the pandemic. For 2022-23, the four big Australian banks’ profit margins were 35.5%, compared to an average of 32.4% from 2005 to 2020.</p> <p><strong>CHILDCARE</strong></p> <p>Australian households spent a good portion of their income on childcare, and for many of them, it was <a href="https://www.vu.edu.au/sites/default/files/mitchell-institute-assessing-childcare-affordability-in-Australia.pdf">unaffordable</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, the lack of availability and difficulty in switching services makes it even harder for working parents to find alternative options. This indicates parents are forced to pay more if the service providers raise prices.</p> <p>The inquiry found the childcare sector increased fees by 20% to 32% from 2018 to 2022. Accordingly, Australian households’ out-of-pocket expenses for childcare increased more than the rate of wage growth. For-profit childcare businesses have higher margins than not-for-profit centres.</p> <p><strong>ELECTRICITY</strong></p> <p>In recent years, electricity price increases have impacted all Australian households. The inquiry found both wholesale and retail electricity pricing strategies were responsible for these increased prices.</p> <p>It reported that wholesale price increases were mainly responsible for an estimated 9% to 20% increase in electricity bills in 2022-23.</p> <p>The report noted the “price bidding system” was largely responsible for increasing wholesale electricity prices.</p> <p>The inquiry was critical of the profit margin of AGL, a leading electricity retailer:</p> <blockquote> <p>It would seem that AGL needs to explain why consumers are paying $60.10/MWh more than seems to be justified by cost differentials. That is, for every consumer bill of $1,000 there is an apparent excess to be explained of $205.61 relative to prices charged to large business customers and not accounted for by genuine cost differences.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>SUPERMARKETS</strong></p> <p>Supermarket prices have received the most attention recently with the main providers being accused of price gouging.</p> <p>As has occurred in other sectors, profit margins were well above pre-COVID levels. In 2023, the margin was more than 3.5% compared to less than 3% in 2017 and 2018.</p> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/not-happy-little-vegemites-food-prices-rising-faster-than-inflation-20230522-p5da9w.html">food prices</a> also increased well above the inflation rate.</p> <p>According to the inquiry, the price increases for groceries between March 2021 and September 2023 varied between 19.2% and 27.3% for different categories, including cheese, bread, milk, eggs, dairy products and breakfast cereals.</p> <p>Farmers recently <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/aussie-farmer-shipping-beautiful-melons-to-japan-rather-than-deal-with-coles-and-woolworths/news-story/bd685cd91f934f31c02c764097f496ae">accused</a> supermarkets of making too much profit from their crops.</p> <p>This was backed by the inquiry, which found the disproportionate market power held by supermarkets and food processors was of significant concern.</p> <p>The report noted that supermarkets increased prices when there was a shortage or cost increase, but the opposite did not happen easily when supplies were plentiful and prices were cheaper.</p> <h2>Issues common to all sectors</h2> <p>Among the issues common to all sectors were weak competition, a lack of price transparency, the difficulty consumers face switching between suppliers and providers, a lack of pricing policies and a lack of consumer awareness.</p> <p>While the price rises imposed by service providers and retailers were <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/business/pricing/setting-prices-whats-allowed">not unlawful</a>, the increases in all sectors were significant and were hurting everyday Australians.</p> <h2>Fels’ recommendations</h2> <p>Many of the recommendations were sector-specific, but the one that applied to all areas related to the lack of regulation and pricing policies.</p> <p>The ACCC should be empowered to investigate, monitor and regulate prices for the child and aged care, banking, grocery and food sectors, the inquiry found. This was necessary to ensure businesses used fair and transparent pricing.</p> <p>A review of all existing policies was also recommended. For example, the government should use the current aviation review to remove international and domestic restrictions on competition. It was important aviation stakeholders, such as airlines and airports, were involved in the process.</p> <p>The report suggested the grocery <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/food-and-grocery-code-of-conduct">code of conduct</a> should be mandatory for the food and grocery sector, and a price register for farmers should be created. This should be a government priority to protect farmers from unfair pricing by major supermarkets and food processors.</p> <h2>Change is needed</h2> <p>The current pricing practices for all business sectors must improve for greater transparency and to protect Australian consumers from unfair pricing.</p> <p>The inquiry report’s findings and recommendations are helpful in ensuring fair and transparent pricing policies and improving the current regulations for price settings.</p> <p>Implementing the recommendations will improve fair and transparent pricing practices and may help Australians get relief from the cost of living pressure in future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222755/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384"><em>Sanjoy Paul</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, UTS Business School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/supermarkets-airlines-and-power-companies-are-charging-exploitative-prices-despite-reaping-record-profits-222755">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

AusPost customer faces extra charge for using cash

<p dir="ltr">As conversations continue about moving to a cashless society, an Australia Post customer was outraged after being slapped with a charge for using cash. </p> <p dir="ltr">Brisbane resident Gerrie Hoogland shared her outrage after hearing about the supposed cash charge through a friend, who claims they were charged $2.20 for wanting to use cash to pay a bill. </p> <p dir="ltr">Hoogland recounted the story on X, formerly known as Twitter, to share the story, while asking if anyone else had encountered anything similar. </p> <p dir="ltr">She wrote, “A friend of my husband’s went to pay a bill at the Post Office last week. He gave them $82.00 in cash and they said they would have to charge him $2.20 for using cash.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“He refused to pay it after telling them cash is legal tender, and then he left without paying the bill at all. Is anyone else hearing more of this?”</p> <p dir="ltr">A number of Aussies took to the comments to call out Australia Post for being “shady”, with some calling the fee a “scam” and a “disgrace”. </p> <p dir="ltr">However the outrage towards Australia Post may be misplaced. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em><a href="https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/australia-post-customer-charged-220-for-using-cash---but-is-the-outrage-warranted-025519571.html">Yahoo Finance</a></em> has contacted the national postal service and understands the fee is set by individual billers, rather than Australia Post themselves.</p> <p dir="ltr">The fee relates to bills paid in person at an Australia Post outlet via Post Billpay and can apply to both cash and card transactions, and whether or not the fee is passed onto the customer will depend on the individual biller. </p> <p dir="ltr">In recent years, a number of billers charge an additional payment fee for bills paid in person, with some notable examples include telcos Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em><span id="docs-internal-guid-934db778-7fff-f88e-e460-f8550a0ce109"></span></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Alec Baldwin facing new charges over fatal Rust shooting

<p dir="ltr">Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for a second time over the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie <em>Rust</em>. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Hollywood legend has been indicted by a grand jury in New Mexico over the death of the 42-year-old cinematographer, who was hit with a live bullet that had been loaded into a prop gun for a scene. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The above named defendant did cause the death of Halyna Hutchins by an act committed with the total disregard of indifference for the safety of others,” the indictment obtained by <em><a href="https://nypost.com/2024/01/19/news/alec-baldwin-charged-with-involuntary-manslaughter-over-rust-shooting/">The Post</a> </em>read.</p> <p dir="ltr">Baldwin has long denied the charges, and has stood by his claim that he did not pull the trigger on the day of the accident. </p> <p dir="ltr">Baldwin had previously been charged with the same crime by the Santa Fe district attorney in January 2022.</p> <p dir="ltr">He pleaded not guilty at the time, but the case soon fell apart and the charges were dropped in April that year after it was determined that further forensic testing needed to be done on the weapon that fired the bullet.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the case being dismissed, the DA was clear that the door would be left open to refile the charges.</p> <p dir="ltr">Prosecutors have also charged <em>Rust</em> armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who oversaw the weapons on the movie set, with the same crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">She has also pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. </p> <p dir="ltr">If convicted, Baldwin could face up to 18 months in prison.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-72916b43-7fff-6f42-edfa-da16ccff7698"></span></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Hunter Valley bus driver hit with new charges

<p dir="ltr">The bus driver involved in the fatal crash that killed 10 people on the way to a wedding reception has been hit with new charges over the tragedy. </p> <p dir="ltr">In June 2023, Brett Andrew Button was driving the bus to a Hunter Valley venue when the vehicle allegedly lost control and crashed, killing 10 people onboard.</p> <p dir="ltr"> The 59-year-old was initially charged last year, with his charges including 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death - driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving occasioning death.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday morning, he was hit with 26 new offences, including 10 charges of manslaughter for each of the victims who died in the accident.</p> <p dir="ltr">The charges represent a significant upgrade in terms of legal severity, with Button facing a maximum of 25 years in prison for each manslaughter charge.</p> <p dir="ltr">He is also facing 16 counts of furious driving causing bodily harm, which relate to the manner in which Button was allegedly driving in the moments leading to the crash.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Button will now be facing a total of 89 charges over the incident when he returns to court on Wednesday, and is currently out on bail. </p> <p dir="ltr">In August last year, the court was told that it was clear Mr Button was “suffering” amid concerns about his mental health and wellbeing in custody.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Button has yet to enter pleas for the existing charges.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bus driver was taking wedding guests towards Singleton for the wedding reception of Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell, when he allegedly told bus passengers to “fasten your seatbelts” moments before losing control of the vehicle. </p> <p dir="ltr">Local husband and wife Andrew and Lynan Scott, Zachary Bray, Angus Craig, Darcy Bulman, Tori Cowburn, Rebecca Mullen, Kane Symons, and mother-and daughter Naden and Kyah McBride were all killed in the crash.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

Our Partners