Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Singer’s visa at risk amid crackdown on domestic violence

AFP, SYDNEY

Australia yesterday warned that US rapper Chris Brown could be denied a visa for an upcoming tour because of his criminal record, as it unveiled a A$100 million (US$70 million) package to end the “national disgrace” of domestic violence.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first policy initiative since coming to power last week underscores the national debate that has erupted over family violence, which is claiming lives at the rate of nearly two women per week.

“Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia. It is a national disgrace,” Turnbull said, adding that a “big cultural shift” was needed to defeat it.

Australian Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said the government was “very seriously” considering refusing R&B star Brown entry to Australia over his conviction for a 2009 assault on pop singer Rihanna.

Brown, who won a 2012 Grammy for best R&B album with F.A.M.E., is scheduled to hold a series of concerts in December, but the activist group GetUp is campaigning against letting in the singer, who has been barred from other countries, including Britain and Canada.

“I can assure you it is something that the minister [for immigration] is looking at,” Cash told reporters, saying she would recommend a ban.

“People need to understand, if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world there are going to be countries that say to you: ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character that we expect in Australia,’” she said.

The former assistant immigration minister said she had previously revoked the visa of a “very, very, very wealthy” boxing star, understood to be Floyd Mayweather Jr, who has multiple convictions for assaulting women.

“We said: ‘No, we are not providing you with a visa, you are not the type of person we want in Australia,’” she said.

Brown, who was given five years’ probation, community service and domestic violence counseling after pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna, was allowed in to tour Australia in 2011.

There are also questions over whether Brown will be granted entry into New Zealand for the planned tour. His conviction requires him to apply for a special visa and he has so far not done so.

New Zealand MP Judith Collins gave her opinion last week, saying: “We’ve got enough wife-beaters in this country, he should just bugger off.”

Turnbull, who became prime minister in a shock party coup, quoted research showing one in four young Australian men think it is acceptable to slap their girlfriends after drinking.

“Let’s make it our resolution that Australia will be known as a nation, as a people, as a society that respects women,” he said, adding that three women and a baby had been killed by family or partners in the past three days.

The push to tackle family violence escalated when campaigner Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year in January, after her estranged husband killed their 11-year-old son in a public park with a cricket bat before being shot dead by police.

The shocking attack ignited a national debate.

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