Australia Thursday warned US rapper Chris Brown could be denied a visa for an upcoming tour because of his criminal record, as it unveiled a Aus$100 million (US$70 million) package to end the “national disgrace” of domestic violence.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first policy initiative since coming to power last week underlines 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.
Michaelia Cash who was appointed Minister of Women on Sunday said the government was “very seriously” considering refusing Brown entry to Australia because his record — a 2009 assault on pop star Rihanna.
Brown is due to hold a series of concerts in December, but activists are campaigning against letting in the rapper, 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.
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 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’.”
There are also questions over whether Brown will be allowed into New Zealand for the planned tour. His assault conviction means he needs to apply for a special visa and so far none has been lodged.
Long-serving New Zealand lawmaker Judith Collins gave her opinion on the issue 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 last week, 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.
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, which was witnessed by other children, ignited a national debate.
The government’s policy initiative includes Aus$59 million for practical initiatives to keep women safe, Aus$36 million to improve front-line support and Aus$5 million for online resources.
Specific measures include the use of GPS trackers, 20,000 mobile phones and CCTV cameras in the home.