Businesses stay strong against anti-Halal campaigns

At least one Australian company has caved to a social media campaign against Halal certification, but a number of others are resisting.

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Halal products are made using processes that comply with Islamic religious beliefs, allowing producers to access potentially lucrative markets for Australian businesses wanting to export to Islamic countries.

But websites like “Halal Choices” are encouraging people to boycott businesses that have had their goods Halal-certified,  claiming that certification fees are funding terrorism.

The terrorism funding claims have been dismissed as baseless.

The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company has lost a $50,000 deal with Emirates to supply its yoghurt to the Dubai-based airline.

The company’s products are naturally Halal, but Fleurieu decided to pay a $1000 fee to get the certification so it could clinch the Emirates deal.

But Fleurieu has now dropped the certification after being bombarded with criticism on social media.

Its marketing manager, Nick Hutchinson, said they believed it was in the best interests of their business.

“We’ve now received a lot of backlash for making this call about giving in to minority groups and so forth and we understand that,” he told SBS.

“I guess unless you’re in the position where you’re copping the abuse and sitting there, it’s a hard one. But, unlike other companies we knew that we could continue to supply Islamic countries if we wanted to, without the certification.”

Facebook sites such as Boycott Halal have also targeted the company with claims that Halal certification fees end up financing terrorism.

The company said it became a victim of online bullying, but Kirralie Smith from Halal Choices told the ABC it was raising valid questions as to why the certification was needed.

“We have a different definition of bullying, because they’re questions that need to be asked,” she said.

“Why does a milk company have to pay fees when Muslims will consume their product anyway and there are Muslims commenting on those things saying that’s right, there should be no certification fees on milk.”

However, the manager of Muslim Australia Halal Services and Islamic Affairs Anas Nadvi, said the certification process is regulated.

“Regarding the income of Halal certification, there’s no way to support terrorist organisations by any means,” Dr Nadvi told SBS.

“Halal certifying bodies are monitored by the government, the Department of Forests and Fishery in Australia.”   

The head certifier at Halal Australia, Mohammad Khan, also told SBS there was no evidence to support the terrorism funding allegations.

He said the anti-Halal groups are simply engaged in an anti-Muslim campaign.

“Circumstantial evidence suggests that it’s nothing but anti-Muslim campaign and that’s not very healthy for the future generation as well,” he said.

“It is damaging for national economic growth in Australia, also for the harmony of future generations, so we are really stirring up the situation for nothing and creating some kind of confusion and hatred, particularly amongst our children, so that’s not a very healthy sign.” 

Other brands targeted include Cadburys, Sanitarium, Byron Bay Cookies and Four ‘N Twenty.

Byron Bay Cookies said Halal certification allows it to have healthy exports and has enabled it to be one of the biggest employers in Byron Bay.

Four ‘N Twenty  also decided to fight the campaign by defending itself in the online space by explaining its position.

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Aussies up against it in Four Nations

Australian coach Tim Sheens admits if he can steer a vastly below-strength and flu-stricken Kangaroos to victory in Saturday’s Four Nations final against New Zealand it will be one of his greatest coaching achievements.

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Delivered an injury-hit squad, a first round battering from the Kiwis and another illness scare ahead of the Westpac Stadium decider, Sheens has been caught behind the eight ball throughout the four-week tournament.

But Australia survived a 16-12 nail biter against England two weeks ago and overcame a brutal and stoic Samoa last weekend to progress through to the tournament decider.

Without the services of 12 players from last year’s World Cup winning squad, Sheens has blooded nine rookies in three Tests and had little time to mould together a side.

The four-times first grade premiership-winning mentor says a win over the unbeaten Kiwis on home soil at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium would be a considerable effort.

“It would be a fantastic achievement to win this tournament,” Sheens said at a civic reception for both teams in the Wellington CBD on Wednesday.

“I don’t think anyone gave us too much of a chance and certainly after game one they gave us no chance.

“We have come a long way since that first week and that was a very good England side we beat and a Samoan side that had plenty to play for.

“We have had probably too many injuries in the side at the moment but those were the cards we were dealt and the players have the chance to stamp their own mark in the game and defend our Four Nations trophy.”

Sheens was forced to cancel training on Wednesday after an illness swept through the Kangaroos camp for the third time in the tournament.

Greg Inglis couldn’t return after halftime in Australia’s first week loss to the Kiwis in Brisbane and Sheens was struck down in the lead-up to the win over England in Melbourne two weeks ago.

Several media outlets reported that Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk, Sione Mata’utia, David Klemmer and Beau Scott were the players to be quarantined from the group.

However Sheens believes the afflicted players will be fully recovered come game day.

“With the boys sick it is a couple of days and we will be ready to play,” Sheens said.

“We delayed training today because of a little bit of illness but we will be back at training tomorrow.

“No one is in doubt.

“It is various levels between a few of them, but the doctor is taking care of it.

“We are not looking for excuses, we expect them to be right to play on Saturday.

“We have got it under control we think.”

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Lonard chasing golf win on home soil

Former US PGA Tour regular Peter Lonard is looking for vindication while Ewan Porter just wants to keep it simple in his return from an 18-month break at the NSW Open starting on Thursday.

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Lonard last won the tournament in 2004, right before he won the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship.

This week the 47-year-old veteran aims to get his game on track after a rough year on the secondary Web南宁桑拿会所, Tour in the US.

Despite some good tee-to-green play, ranking eighth on tour for greens in regulation, Lonard struggled on the greens averaging 1.824 putts per hole or 135th on the tour.

“I’m not quite as good as I used to be, a little rough around the edges,” Lonard said.

“My tee to green I am good. My chipping is not great and my putting I was always hot and cold with that.

“I just don’t score like I used to which comes back to the short game. I’m just not quite there, which really hurts on the par fives.”

Australia has always been where Lonard has been at his best and he hopes the Greg Norman-designed Stonecutters Ridge course in western Sydney is playing nice and firm to boost his chances.

“This course is a little wider off the tees but the beauty of it is you have to hit a little closer to the trouble to get a better shot into the greens,” he said.

While Lonard is back with a full season behind him, Porter has taken a sabbatical.

The former highly-touted junior fell out of love with the game and wrote a controversial book on his on tour escapades.

Now back at the NSW Open on an invitation, it seems he is finally at peace with his game and keen to simplify things.

“I don’t want to over-analyse because that’s what burnt me out basically,” Porter said.

“If I play like I did as a kid, enjoy it, I’m sure everything else will fall into place.

“There’s going to be rust, there is going to be nerves, but I think if I make the cut that will be a good start back.”

Lonard is looking for more after working so hard to fight back from a back injury in 2008 that threatened his career.

“Top 20 would be great, top 10 would be better,” said the veteran, before adding he’d like one more big win down under.

“Mentally a win would be good for me.

“When I did my back I wanted to get back, spent a lot of time working hard and a hell of a lot of money trying to get back.

“Financially that money is probably gone, but the satisfaction to get back something for a lot of hard work would be really satisfying to me.

“Yeah, one would be lovely.”

LAST 10 NSW OPEN WINNERS

(No tournament in 2012; *denotes playing this year)

2013 Aron Price*

2011 Adam Crawford*

2010 Peter O’Malley

2009 Leigh McKechnie*

2008 Aaron Townsend

2007 Jason Norris

2006 Rick Kulacz

2005 Michael Wright

2004 Peter Lonard *

2003 Craig Carmichael

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Drugs, cash possible factors in Vic murder

Drugs and money may have led to the murder of a man whose body was dumped after three men ambushed him on a Victorian bridge, a court has heard.

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Mount Gambier man Gordon Hamm had just scooped about $5000 or $6000 on the pokies and may have used the cash to stock up on drugs before he was tracked down and killed, Crown prosecutor Michele Williams QC said on Wednesday.

Mount Gambier men Mark James Moreland, 35, Christopher Nathan Tippens, 29, and 21-year-old Tai Thorp have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hamm in the Victorian town of Nelson in the early hours of July 17 last year.

Ms Williams said Mr Hamm was a passenger in a woman’s car that was travelling from Portland in Victoria to Mount Gambier in South Australia when it was blocked on a bridge by the three men, who were in two cars.

She said Moreland produced a rifle before Mr Hamm was dragged out of the car.

“He is repeatedly bashed with the butt of his rifle,” Ms Williams told the Victorian Supreme Court.

The petrified woman drove away from the scene and headed toward Mount Gambier, she said.

Two brothers camping at the site reported hearing raised voices, a gunshot and Mr Hamm screaming, Ms Williams said, and then Mr Hamm fled down the embankment to a nearby picnic area where he was bashed again.

Ms Williams said one witness saw the side door of Thorp’s car slightly ajar, with something jammed in it.

She alleged the men disposed of Mr Hamm’s body in a nearby plantation, and torched the car.

Mr Hamm’s blood was found on the bridge and police also located items consistent with a violent struggle or attack at the picnic area, including a broken piece rifle, a damaged bollard and Mr Hamm’s Ugg boots which tested positive for gunshot residue.

A rifle found at Tippens’ brother’s house months later matched the broken piece perfectly, Ms Williams said.

She said there were a couple of possible motives for the alleged slaying, and told the jury several people involved in the case were known to each other.

“You’re going to hear the accused and many of the witnesses were involved in the drug world,” Ms Williams said.

She said Mr Hamm could have been carrying large quantities of cash or drugs.

“And they wanted it,” Ms Williams said of the three men.

But she said it also appeared Mr Hamm owed money to a number of people, alleging Tippens and Moreland had spoken to one of them about paying Mr Hamm a visit and giving him a “touch up”.

“They did pay him a visit, in the middle of the night on a bridge,” Ms Williams said.

Phone records would be largely used to prove Thorp was involved, the court heard.

The defence will address the jury on Thursday.

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I am not a dud buy: Titans NRL recruit

He was known as the Brisbane Broncos’ strongest man.

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But Gold Coast recruit David Hala reckons he won’t be hitting the Titans weights any time soon as he looks to avoid another tag – “dud buy”.

“I have a lot to prove,” the injury-plagued Hala said.

“I have to train hard and get the respect of the boys, have the belief that I can punch out the minutes, that I wasn’t just a dud buy.”

Hala, 25, held the Broncos’ bench press record of 195kg.

But Hala reckoned he could afford to avoid the gym for months as he tackled his first full pre-season ahead of his seventh year in the NRL.

“I can afford not to do gym for four weeks or two months or something,” he smiled.

“I’ve just got to keep running, as long as I can – I have to get that conditioning back.”

Remarkably, injuries – warranting 10 operations – have restricted Hala to just 37 games for Brisbane since his 2009 debut.

It ensured that even with Martin Kennedy and Ben Hannant cut, Hala was so far down the pecking order in the Brisbane pack that he was told he could look elsewhere by returning Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” he said.

“I was a Bronco on Monday and then Tuesday morning got a call from the manager saying I had a couple of offers on the table.

“I talked to Wayne and asked where I sat in the pecking order and he was really honest.”

Asked about Bennett’s Broncos clean-out, which has also claimed Josh Hoffman and Ben Barba, Hala said: “It’s a big change but it’s totally on Wayne’s shoulders.

“He is bringing what he wants to the club and what he thinks is right – I wish them the best of luck.”

Due to his horror injury run, Hala initially accepted a downgraded one-year deal for 2015 in order to stay at the Broncos under former coach Anthony Griffin.

But Hala eventually walked as the returning Bennett cleared cap space for Darius Boyd’s arrival and a forward, with Dragons hardman Trent Merrin linked to the club.

These days, Hala just wants to put Brisbane behind him.

Asked if he was looking forward to playing Brisbane, the unlucky Hala quipped: “I am looking forward to playing anybody actually.”

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Steve Smith hurt as Johnson sizzles

Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson is on a war path and even his teammates are feeling the pinch.

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All-rounder Steve Smith was left nursing a sore finger on Wednesday after copping a rising Johnson delivery during training at the WACA Ground.

Smith was able to shake off the hit and complete the session, but opener David Warner wasn’t so lucky last year when he fractured his thumb after failing to deal with a Johnson sizzler.

Johnson doesn’t like to see his teammates get hurt, but the express paceman isn’t willing to go easy on them at training either.

And it will be South Africa’s turn to feel the heat on Friday when the two teams lock horns in the first one-dayer at the WACA.

“I always go hard in the nets and try to make it as realistic as possible without trying to kill the batsmen,” Johnson said ahead of the five-match series.

“I might not have said sorry (to Smith), but I just made sure he’s ok.

“I did get Davie Warner here a couple of years ago and felt pretty bad about it.

“I’m not intending to hurt the batters.

“When I do bowl my short ball, I am trying to practise, but I am not trying to knock their heads off.”

Johnson himself is carrying a finger injury that occurred during a mistimed catching attempt before the 2-0 Test series loss to Pakistan.

The 33-year-old isn’t sure whether the damage to his left index finger is ligament or bone-related, but he’s confident it won’t hamper him this summer.

“I’m able to get through and be pain free at the moment … so no dramas there,” Johnson said.

The pace battle between Johnson and South African Dale Steyn will be one of the major drawcards on what’s expected to be a bouncy WACA deck.

Steyn is yet to forgive Australian skipper Michael Clarke for labelling him a cheat earlier this year, and Proteas paceman Vernon Philander expects his teammate to be fired up.

“Hopefully he’s angry on day one,” Philander said.

“He’s psyched up for this, and so are we all.

“Every now and then you say something to the opposition that irritates them.

“Obviously the guys said something to him that irritated him. He’s going to be out in full flight.”

Johnson said the competitive nature of both teams should ensure yet another heated affair.

“Yeah, there’s always tension between the two sides,” Johnson said.

“It’s probably going to be fiery again.

“But in the end we’re going to play them on skill. That’s what we’re about.

“We want to beat them with bat and ball. Whatever else happens, it happens out in the middle.”

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As world leaders come in, some Brisbane residents head out

But as security tightens ahead of the rest of them, Brisbane residents are doing the opposite and leaving town, raising fear the world will have a lasting impression of a ghost town.

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“It’s definitely a no-go zone. We can’t walk down there. It’s been restricted for quite a while. And they definitely told us that we shouldn’t go anywhere near that.”

Lauren and Sophie are university students living just a hundred metres from where United States president Barak Obama will stay.

An influx of possibly seven thousand G-20 delegates, media and world leaders in all is expected, but, for many Brisbane residents like Lauren and Sophie, it is a time to leave.

“The fact that they’re having to put these things in place for the risk that something might happen is a bit of a concern. Given that this is our home and this is where we live and this is where we’re supposed to feel safe, it’s a little bit scary.”

The two young women are in the middle of exams, but their university will be under a G-20 security blanket for a speech by Mr Obama on Saturday.

With a public holiday on Friday, Lauren and Sophie are packing for a long weekend at the beach.

At first, authorities, indeed, encouraged residents to leave town.

But now, they fear Brisbane’s moment in the international spotlight will show it up as a ghost town and not put it on map as a must-see world city.

The chief executive officer of the state government’s Queensland Tourism Industry Corporation, Daniel Gschwind, says he is holding out hope.

“Look, I don’t believe it will be empty. I think there is really genuine interest that people have in seeing what the commotion is about. It’s, you know, a Friday and the weekend coming. I think there will be plenty of people in town. And I would encourage people, if they’re interested, to come and have a look, see what’s going on.”

Mr Gschwind hopes cultural events in town will keep people around.

“We have a party in town. That means it’s a bit inconvenient for some people at some point, but that’s just the price you have to pay for being part of an international community.”

Lauren and Sophie acknowledge they have enjoyed the events so far, but say it is not enough to make them stay.

“The attractions are really great, and I think people have been having a lot of fun, especially at Southbank. When I’ve gone there to meet up with friends, there have been so many families enjoying all of the free events. So it might have changed people’s minds to stay, and it probably would give a better impression if more people are here, but, like us, most people are interested in just leaving, because it’ll be pretty inconvenient.”

James Freestun is senior vice-president of the Queensland branch of Strata Community Australia, the main type of residential property in the G20 restricted zone.

He talks of concern.

“Look, I think there’s a concern about, you know, ‘if they put a sniper on my roof,’ and I’ve got to say that we have some members whose buildings actually have some kind of security. I don’t know what they are — they’re calling them snipers, but people on the roof (anyway). And whether that’s going to ‘make them a target,’ or that ‘something could go wrong’ … I’m sure these guys walk around with their rifles with the safety triggers on.”

Mr Freestun estimates up to 40,000 people live within the restricted areas.

There will be a heavy security presence, but that creates its own issues.

“They’re obviously going to be looking for people that they see as being a risk, and it’s about making sure you don’t look like one. So, I’ve got a few suggestions about how you dress as well. Don’t wear backpacks. Stay away from military fatigues and things like that. And, look, treat it like … don’t make any jokes about bombs or anything like that. It’s not going to go down well.”

The full G20 security measures will be in place from Friday, with protests scheduled primarily for the weekend.

For Lauren, like many other residents of Brisbane, though, the G20 protests hold no interest.

“To be honest, I think it’s not really a cause that’s very close to my heart. As much as it’s a very important issue for the world, I’m not very interested in protesting against it.”

James Freestun says residents in possible protest zones should be prepared in ways they may not have considered.

“We’re just saying to people, ‘Check your insurance and make sure that civil unrest is covered in your insurance.’ I’ve spoken to a couple of the large insurers in our industry, and they’ve said most buildings that are insured up to 50 million dollars and some of them up to a hundred-million dollars have that cover.”

Lauren and Sophie are confident all will be fine at their apartment block.

But they are looking forward to the beach.

“Mooloolaba. At the Sunshine Coast.”

“Yeah, we love that beach. So we’ll go up there and have a nice break.”

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Terrorism accused bailed on strict terms

A Melbourne man accused of funding terrorism has been told he will be jailed so fast his feet won’t touch the ground if he breaches his bail conditions.

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Hassan El Sabsabi, 23, was granted bail as he awaits trial for allegedly sending $12,000 in seven payments to a person overseas to fund his travels to Syria and Turkey.

Investigations continue regarding a further $4000.

Crown prosecutor Krista Breckweg opposed bail, saying El Sabsabi was motivated by a powerful ideology and was an unacceptable flight risk.

“He has expressed a desire to go to Syria, he can access funds,” Ms Breckweg told the Victorian Supreme Court.

Justice Bernard Bongiorno said the newly married pizza shop worker may not face trial until mid-2016 and so satisfied the requirement for exceptional circumstances to be demonstrated for bail to be granted.

Justice Bongiorno warned El Sabsabi the charges of providing funds to a terrorist organisation were very serious.

“At the moment you are under a cloud,” Justice Bongiorno said.

He ordered El Sabsabi to provide surety of $250,000 and imposed strict bail conditions that require him to surrender his passport and restrict where he can live.

“The minute you breach one of them you’ll be in jail so fast your feet won’t touch the ground,” Justice Bongiorno told El Sabsabi on Wednesday.

Defence barrister Stewart Bayles argued the case against El Sabsabi had to be viewed in the context of the conflict in Syria.

The prosecution alleges El Sabsabi sent money to a member of the Jabhat al-Nusra organisation.

Mr Bayles said they would have issues proving El Sabsabi knew the recipient of the funds was a member of Jabhat al-Nusra and whether he knew the organisation was classified as a terrorist group.

“Jabhat al-Nusra is an organisation that seems to have grown up entirely out of that conflict,” Mr Bayles said.

He said there was no evidence El Sabsabi had expressed any sentiments against Australia, the US or the West, or allegations of physical risk to any person.

But Ms Breckweg said the case against El Sabsabi was strong, referencing a number of alleged Facebook and Skype interactions, including some which asked for donations to “support the cause of Allah”.

Justice Bongiorno told El Sabsabi he must not send money to anyone outside of Australia or contact the person to whom he allegedly sent funds in 2014.

He is required to report to police daily and cannot use social media.

El Sabsabi, of Seabrook, is due to return to court for a committal mention on February 3.

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Abbott caught out by US-China deal

Australia will take into account an historic climate change agreement between China and the US when it considers its post-2020 emissions reduction targets next year, the federal government says.

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China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has set a goal for its emissions to peak at 2030, or earlier if possible.

It will also look to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to about 20 per cent by 2030, while the US set a goal to cut its own emissions of the gases blamed for climate change by 26 per cent to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025.

The declaration came as President Barack Obama had talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Australia has a goal of reducing emissions by five per cent by 2020.

Labor and the Greens launched a blistering attack on the Abbott government’s climate policy after the historic deal was announced on Wednesday, as the federal government quickly indicated it won’t steer from its present course.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt reiterated the government would look at new developments when it considered Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction targets in the lead up to the UN climate change conference in Paris in November 2015.

“This will take into account action taken by our major trading partners,” he said in a statement.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the agreement will provide significant momentum for dealing with climate change at the G20 in Brisbane, whether the prime minister likes it or not.

“While the United States and China show global leadership, Tony Abbott is sticking his head in the sand,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.

“At the G20 this week, Australia will hold the embarrassing title of being the only nation going backwards on climate change.”

Greens leader Christine Milne said Mr Abbott was so busy unwinding the nation’s climate policies that he failed to notice the global economy was changing around him.

“Until the Abbott government took control, Australia was a world leader in climate policy with an emissions trading scheme that was considered template legislation for other nations,” Senator Milne said.

The Climate Institute’s deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson says the Australian government has been caught with its pants down.

“This is the problem with having a pitiful 2020 target,” he said.

“There’s no free lunch for the government here.

“If you want to participate in global action and you want to be a credible player internationally, then you can’t continue to sit on your hands.”

The Climate Council’s Tim Flannery said Australia must be a lifter and not a leaner.

“Australia is a major climate change player. Per person, we are the highest emitter, more than Europeans or Chinese,” Professor Flannery said.

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Qld police play down G20 security scare

Queensland police are playing down an assault and separate security scare near the main G20 hub in Brisbane in the lead-up to the leaders’ summit.

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Two projectors, disguised as security cameras and designed to display anti-G20 slogans, were installed near the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre before the surrounding area was locked down in the past week.

A man, 41, was also on Tuesday arrested after punching and hurling plants at a security guard on duty for the G20 summit.

Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said whoever installed the projectors, which weren’t found until the security cordon was imposed, hadn’t actually committed any criminal offences.

“It was merely a device to project a political message and it was just a different medium of delivering a message,” Mr Barnett told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.

“If they had put up a poster or a sticker, it would have had the same effect.

“It was not in anyway a threat to community safety.”

Mr Barnett said although a criminal investigation wasn’t underway, police would still try to find out who was responsible so they could determine how the devices were installed and prevent similar tactics being used while the restricted zone was enforced.

He said the man who assaulted the security guard wasn’t charged under special G20 legislation because his offences weren’t related to the leaders’ summit.

“Just because things happen in this precinct, doesn’t necessarily mean they will come within the scope of the G20 (Safety and Security) Bill,” he said.

“The sort of activity that it’s alleged he engaged in is dealt with on a `business as usual’ basis under the existing law.”

The man allegedly knocked a car park boom gate off its hinges at South Bank’s cultural centre on Tuesday, before damaging nearby gardens.

When a female security guard on G20 duties approached him, he allegedly threw plants at her before punching her in the face.

The woman sustained minor injuries in the attack, which happened inside a declared G20 security area.

The man was arrested and charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and wilful damage.

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