Daily News Roundup

January 8, 2019

Supplied: Lisa-ann Gershwin

Tuesday, January 8

An Australian stinger expert believes a rare, giant bluebottle could be responsible for a spate of emergency department presentations for suspected bluebottle encounters in Queensland.

Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service director Lisa-ann Gershwin said this stinger belonged to the same family as the bluebottle and Portuguese man-of-war and was last seen in Australian waters in 2013.

“It tends to appear only every 10 to 30 years,” Dr Gershwin said.

Cairns man Mitch Keller said his five-year-old son was stung by one of the giant bluebottles last winter and suffered excruciating pain.

“The bulbous bubble part was the width of my hand, it would have been nine to 10 centimetres wide from one end to the other,” Mr Keller said.

He said his family was on holidays at Mission Beach and had noticed bluebottles on the shore.

“There had been a strong westerly which blew up some bluebottles and we hadn’t really seen them this far north,” he said.

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A frightened Saudi teenager who is trying to get asylum in Australia has been told by Thai officials they will not send her back to Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf Alqunun, 18, flew from Kuwait and said she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

Ms Alqunun then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

After initially being blocked by the Thai Government, representatives from the UNHCR were able to speak to the 18-year-old.

Ms Alqunun has now left her room and is in the custody of Thai immigration officials.

A UNHCR representative said he had been given assurances Ms Alqunun would not be sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Before the meeting, in a video message posted to social media on Monday, Ms Alqunun could be heard negotiating with authorities from her room.

“I’m not going to open the door,” she tweeted.

“I want UN [United Nations Refugee Agency].”

An injunction to prevent her deportation to Kuwait was initially dismissed by the Bangkok criminal court on Monday.

But a Kuwait Airlines flight headed for Saudi Arabia that Ms Alqunun was meant to board left Bangkok without her.

Afterwards, Thailand’s Immigration Police Chief, Surachet Hakpal, said in a news conference that Ms Alqunun was safe from deportation.

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Senator Fraser Anning, slammed for attending a racist protest in Victoria, insists he won’t repay his taxpayer-funded travel as reports emerge he attended two other right wing events.

Both sides of politics have criticised the independent senator’s presence at the Saturday event, which was attended by people making Nazi gestures.

PM Scott Morrison condemned Senator Anning for attending the rally in St Kilda and associating with extreme and offensive views.

“He is a repeat offender on these issues,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

Senator Anning dismissed Mr Morrison, along with a chorus of critics from across the political divide.

“They’re all left-wingers and unfortunately the PM hasn’t understood the Australian people want an alternative,” he told Nine’s A Current Affair.

“As far as I’m concerned they’re all puppets to the United Nations.”

Senator Anning said the “neo-Nazi stuff” was at a separate rally about 150 metres from where he was on St Kilda beach despite being seen with convicted criminal Blair Cottrell who has previously expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler.

He said Nazi salutes were abhorrent to him, defending the $2852.80 he spent on flights to get to the rally, which he claimed was about “Sudanese gangs” being out of hand.

“I went to a rally of decent Australians who are sick and tired of what’s happening in the city,” the senator said.

The senator’s comments come as reports emerged he also charged taxpayers to attend at least two other far-right events in 2018.

In July, he joined Canadian far-right activist Lauren Southern at a rally in Sydney, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday.

Costs for the trip included two nights of accommodation for $810, and flights between Sydney and Brisbane costing nearly $1900, Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority figures show.

The senator also charged taxpayers for another trip to Melbourne in October to speak at an Australian Liberty Alliance’s Rally for Free Speech but the costs have not yet been declared.

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