Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
A Current Affair -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) Thank you and welcome to A Current Affair. Rowena Wallace was a top-rating Aussie actress, a Gold Logie winner. Now she's charged with welfare fraud. We talk with her, exclusively, in a moment. Also tonight - loan sharks charging 435% interest.


broke, they've completely wiped

me out financially. I me out finan ia ly. I have me out financially. I have nothing me out financially. I ave nothing else. Plus, new fears over workers' right. Now it's lunch breaks and paid public holidays under threat. And stopping thieves in their tracks. urprAsing new tech ology t t protects our home. Surprising new technology that protects your home. This program is captioned l ve. First, Rowena Wallace, "Pat the Rat" from the glory days of the TV series 'Sons and Daughters',

more recently, one of the stars of 'Celebrity Overhaul'. But now Rowena has to face up to a court appearance on charges of social security fraud, charges that could send her to jail.

Rowena, thank you for talking to me

Rowena, thank you for talking to me how do you plead, guilty as

charged? Yes. I am. Guilty as

charged. What happened? Did you

forget that you were getting a

forget that you were getting a disability pension? I think that I

just didn't think about what I was

doing. And of course now even

doing. And of course now even though I have paid the money back,

I feel quite ashamed. And very

remorseful, very sorry. That I did

it. From what you've said, Rowena,

no excuse, but a lot of reasons?

When you suffer from depression,

When you suffer from depression, it's very difficult for people to

understand what goes on in your

head and with your emotions,

because I was in housing commission

I felt that it was the end of my

career, that I had been a failure,

career, that I had been a failure,

career, that I had been a failure, I was all washed up, and that I was

waiting for my mum and dad to die.

And I felt that when, after they

And I felt that when, after they died, I wasn't of any use to anyone

anymore. And so you can see from

that that I wasn't really thinking

positively. No anything but. You've

positively. No anything but. You've spoken recently about being suicide

spoken recently about being suicide arblgs about that depression, about

arblgs about that depression, about being very sick. I take it at that

stage, out of a job, you were doing

it real tough? Yeah, I was. There

were times when I literally had no

were times when I literally had no money at all. I mean no money to

buy food, that kind of no money.

buy food, that kind of no money. And it's a fairly difficult state

to find yourself in. The actors

benevolent fund used to send me

$200 a month, and that, I was very

grateful for that. And it's easy to

say to someone in my position, say to someone in my position, say to someone in my position, you're just going through a phrase,

things will get better, but they

don't. I guess anyone, here's

Rowena Wallace, shortly before that,

a gold log buy winner, arguably

Australia's favourite actor, a

really great actor as well, people

really great actor as well, people would be shocked to hear that you

would be shocked to hear that you were effectively on the dole,

living in a housing commission

living in a housing commission l v ng A a hous g commission living in a housing commission house? I was actually on a

disability pension. And I still

have the disability, that's the

crazy thing. It was five have t e disab ity, that s th cra y t ing. It w s f e years have the disability, that's the crazy thing. It was five years ago

though, were you shocked when it

suddenly appeared in today's

papers? I was. Even though I had -

my lawyer had talked about the

possibility of this happening. I

guess because after doing celebrity

overhaul I was feeling a lot more

overhaul I was feeling a lot more positive and I didn't really think

positive and I didn't really think that it would actually happen. And

that the fact that I may go to jail

- You don't really think you'll

- You don't really think you'll - You don't really think you'll going to jail, do you? I honestly

going to jail, do you? I honestly don't know. I mean it seems that

they want their pound of flesh,

that even though I've paid back the

money and I have suffered to a

money and I have suffered to a degree from my own stupidty , it

seems that I think I'm being made

an example of. But you've repaid

what, $26,000 back to Centrelink?

Yes That's a fair whack. What do

you owe? Do you still owe them

money? No, I don't. I don't owe

them anything, no, that's all.

That's all gone Yeah You mentioned

the fact that you were ashamed. I

the fact that you were ashamed. I guess part of that has been that

you were so high in the public

image, having something like this

happen to you is why you're

embarrassed or why you're ashamed?

I guess there's not much about my

life now that people don't know.

This is something that I would

rather they didn't know, but

however, they do now. What they

think of me, I don't know. But as a

footballer, I think it was said

recently, got to cop it on the chin.

And that's what I have to do. It's

a cautionary tale and I think

centre link would say, well, if it

can happen to someone like her, it

can happen to anybody, so just

beware. OK. As you said, you got to beware. OK. As you said, you got to

beware. OK. As you said, you got to cop it on the chin Yeah Alright,

Rowena, thank you for talking to me,

Rowena, thank you for talking to me, and keep your chin up. Thank you, Ray. OK, imagine trying to cope with an interest rate of 435%.

It would quickly break you. That's exactly what's happened to unwary clients of a finance company whose loan dealings are a financial horror story. I'm broke. They've completely wiped me out financially. I have nothing else. They want everything. They want everything from you.

It's loan sharking with utterly exorbitant interest rates that can blow out to 435% per annum. You're dealing with a solicitor and the solicitor should, by rights

be doing the right thing by ordinary people like me. Janessa Gilmont is a mother of five who needed a short-term loan, bridging finance, after she bought a new house and was waiting to settle on the sale of her existing home. I had an social of mine that introduced me to Morgan Conley. Morgan Conley is a law firm owned by this man, solicitor Chris Conley. The Morgan is the name of Conley's dog. Three Point Finance is a company run out of his office. Conley will claim Three Point Finance is just his client. But our investigations and his victims confirm that Conley is one of the brains behind the outfit. The other main Three Point player is this man, Scott Phillips, a man who's made millions from Internet porn. They gave me $52,000, I think, from memory,

for a period of two months at 10% per month interest, which I was aware of and I was happy to pay. Kate thought that would cost her $13,000 in interest, but when the time came to settle that debt - They went missing. I couldn't settle with them.

Now you'd think they'd be pleased to get the money back. Morgan Conley Solicitors, the alleged intermediaries for the loan, told Kate Three Point Finance wasn't returning their phone calls.

I was ringing them up every other

I was ringing them up every other day, have you arranged settle? And

I was told they couldn't get a hold

of the other side. The reason for Three Point's reluctance to settle could only be explained by there being a bigger prize on offer, the security Kate put up for the loan.

I think it was $85,000 or $89,000 that I now owed. And then what did it go to?

Because it had gone into default, interest at that stage and now it was up to 15% per month backdated. The next thing I heard was $130,000. But it wouldn't end there. For this was a one-sided battle. Using the full armory of commercial law that, as lawyers, they knew only too well, Kate's world began to totally disintegrate. I believe that they had absolutely no intention of allowing me to repay the loan.

Conley threatened to evict her

78-year-old mother, the debt

forced her to forfeit the

properties to the first mortgageee.

How much are we talking about?

Close to $500 $600,000. Janessa couldn't pay on time. Her property settlement was delayed. She sought an extension of her loan period from Three Point Finance. They demanded an extra $18,600 in interest for a one-month extension. What else could I do? I had to. I needed it. Otherwise I'd be out with five children. But things soon got nasty, very nasty. He wouldn't just hurt me financially, he would hurt me through my heart and that was with my children. He told me that he knew where my children went to school. And he told me that he knew where I lived. This is Chris Conley saying this? Yes, yes.

But she was lucky. She got away from them by paying $185,000, $85,000 of that was interest for just a six-month loan. It would appear that Chris Conley, Scott Phillips and Three Point Finance operated via a series of legal loopholes, Queensland's Fair Trading legislation does not police loans for terms less than 62 days, while another allows people like Three Point Finance to seize your assets and strangle your ability to pay them out. I'd like to see some retribution as far as Conley and Phillips go

so they're unable to keep practising doing what they're doing. Some hapless customers are introduced to Three Point by an odd assortment of brokers. People like Geoff Herning, a bankrupt, once imprisoned for fraud, and Bruce De Costa, a former solicitor struck off for professional misconduct. Bruce De Costa We went with our broker Finance office in the city. and we went to the Three Point Who did you meet there? Chris Conley and two other blokes. Ana and Tiara had signed a contract 15 minutes later, for five years. to refinance the home they'd owned that were signed We only went through papers told us it was just bedtime reading. and the rest of the documents Bruce was for 25 years. They even thought the loan contract But it wasn't. They lent us 250. we were to pay $298,000. By the end of the six weeks What did it go to? It went to us losing our house. to speak to Chris Conley For weeks now, we have been trying of these matters. about these moral import But this member of the law society our calls. has declined to even return His associate Scott Phillips, on the outskirts of Brisbane, who lives in this secluded mansion in Bali. is currently hiding out in a villa charges on unrelated matters, Phillips is facing 12 criminal liberty, torture and kidnapping. charges that include deprivation of Can you understand how you borrowed $65,000 and less than a year later you've lost $500,000? No, I can't.

It's beyond me. to Chris Conley? What would you like to say you bloody bastard. You're a bastard, David Margan there in Queensland.

for an interview, We made repeated requests not only with Chris Conley, for Three Point Finance. but any other spokesperson But they weren't interested. Alright, having a lunch break take for granted. is something we all pretty much of new fears But it's suddenly at the centre proposed changes about the Howard Government's to our industrial laws.

meal breaks, Those changes don't guarantee rights like paid public holidays. they don't guarantee other basic

if you lost your lunch break? Mate, how would you feel Terrible. A disgrace. Everybody's entitled to a break at work. How important is a lunch break to you? Vital. It keeps you sane, have a break, got to remember there's more to life than just being at your desk. First it was abolishing unfair dismissal laws, then changing the minimum wage system, now John Howard's industrial revolution

to lunch. could mean you'll lose your right its way, You see, if the government gets automatic right to meal breaks, 8 million Australians will lose their and that's not all. public holidays like Christmas Day, They'll also lose their right to paid Anzac Day and Good Friday. to the Dark Ages. I believe it's going back hours and do what I do here? Why doesn't John Howard work eight As a mother and worker as well. factory workers like Geraldine Cassa Today at this Melbourne car parts at the possibility and Anthony Main were outraged with their boss to have a break. they will have to negotiate someone to have a something to eat, The meal breaks are not just for come into it, Occupation Health and Safety issues without a break, people having to work eight hours in more accidents obviously going to result quick smart. and we'll have to put a stop to it How would you feel if you had to work Christmas Day and Good Friday? No, that's my time.

I want to spend that time with my family. These are grossly unfair.

They're going to lead to really harsh exploitation, add much more pressure to Australian working families at a time when they don't need it. ACTU secretary Greg Combet has been leading the charge brave new world against the Government's just five entitlements. which will see workers guaranteed 12 months parental leave, Sick leave, four weeks annual leave, and minimum rates of pay. maximum hours of work The rest? with your boss. You'll have to negotiate is growing every day. Opposition to these changes about the facts, The more that people are learning to these things the more that they are opposed advertising, you know, and no amount of government purse from a sou's ear, as they say trying to con people, turn a silk is going to con people. It just doesn't make sense

We shouldn't have to bargain or

negotiate for a meal break that. Is

something that is absolutely

at the Government's plans This latest shot standard.

has come from an unlikely source, Senator Steve Fielding. the newly-elected Family First He plans to pressure the Government and public holiday pay so that meal breaks remain the traditional right of workers.

Just think about what this could r

would do to family life, knowing

you weren't guaranteeed Christmas

day or Anzac Day or good Friday.

These are things Australian

families really hold onto and These are things Australian

they're very important.

Senator fielding can come and talk to me about this. Minister Kevin Andrews This afternoon, Workplace Relations

assuring workers they will get lunch. was again in damage control, on the part of the Government There's no intention accepted by employers and employees to remove what's quite commonly meal break that there should be appropriate public holidays. and equally that there should be Mate, you run the cafe here. How do you feel about John Howard having meal breaks? trying to ban people Well, it's a bit hard. I think everyone has to eat. Secondly, it would be very bad for business. We rely on people having lunch breaks. If they ban lunch breaks, we don't get paid.

Well, get John Howard to work Christmas Day, Boxing Day and all the public holidays. I don't think he would like it. Ben McCormack there. If you do manage to get a lunchtime, how about a facelift? They're quick, but do they make any difference? And the new security system that leaves burglars looking for a way out. SMOOTH JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS SONG: # All of this # Is yours... # I'm waiting for rain... # SONG: # There's no noise around me through your town... # SONG: # I was passing best jazz this weekend The only place to find Sydney's is the 'Sydney Morning Herald'.

# On borrowed time... # features eight tracks Your free 'Sydney Jazz' CD jazz stars. from our brightest Herald' this Saturday. Only with the 'Sydney Morning often think about - our super. There's one thing most of us don't By July 28, 2005, you should have received if you're eligible, or change funds. You can stay where you are Download the free 'Super Choices' booklet or call 13 28 64. because the choice you make now Think carefully, to your retirement. can make a big difference Welcome back. It's a frightening thought - a thief has invaded your home or your business. But then before he can even work out what to steal, he finds himself blinded by a cloud of what appears to be dense smoke. It's the latest thing in security systems and it may be more effective than any alarm. MUSIC PLAYS What can we do to protect ourselves? 24 hours a day, Unless you have got on-site security that I can see anyway. there is no way around it,

MUSIC PLAYS of being burglary victims. Two small businessmen, sick and tired there's nothing that you can do. Frustrated, angry, simply because a go of his car accessories shop Oscar Erten has been trying to make for the past four years. I'd say it's not only myself, are in a lot of strife but a lot of businesses out there at the moment. Burgled so many times, Mr Erten the cold shoulder. insurance companies are giving to a certain extent, The premiums just keep going up just not want to know you anymore then the insurance companies will because it just gets a bit too much for them. Every minute of every day you are on guard. Bob Anderson runs a Sydney liquor store. It's been robbed more times than he cares to remember, now he's desperate. Anything to stop it, anything to make me feel safer and anything to make me feel as though I can go to bed at night and know that my business is safe, and that I can come to work in the morning and know that I'm safe. And this may be the answer. TOM BAUMER: It happens within seconds. Most areas are filled in under 15 seconds. It forces the burglar out. They don't want want to be in the same environment because they can't see, they literally can't see centimetres past their nose. Tom Baumer runs Sydney security company NSS, which has put Project Smoke Screen on the market. Tom, what effect does this technology have on the burglar? It's shock and awe effect. Just to show you how effective this technology is, imagine I'm a burglar, I've has just broken into this room, I've triggered the alarm. Now you see me, now you don't. And if you can't see me, I can't see what I came here to steal.

And that's exactly what happened when bandits turned up at this Melbourne service station. Not only did they not get anything, but we know they won't be back. BP's Steve Shaw says the servo at Cranbourne was regularly burgled. Burglary in service stations has become a big problem. Previously they had quite a number of robberies and stock losses. This prevented it and they got zero. Frank Spiteri from Victorian security company Smoke Cloak says standard back-to-base alarms are easily beaten.

Unfortunately perpetrators know

that they have anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes before anyone will turn up. And with that being known to them, they basically clean out the place and before you know it the stock is gone. It actually provides an immediate response which the burglar has to deal with. Former NSW police officer Ray Lambie is now an independent security advisor. Back in the mid '90s, I ran a task force into ram raids on boutique jewellery stores in the city of Sydney and this would have - this technology would have actually put those people out of business almost immediately. The blinding smoke is a mixture of water and a sugar substance that's heated and forced through a jet and leaves no residual damage. The poor old burglar, when he breaks in, doesn't know what he is confronted with, whether it's a gas, a fog or smoke or what it is. While the technology is being embraced by businesses around the country, many people are now installing it in their homes. There are more and more homes putting this in. I guess with artwork hanging on the wall and antiques and jewellery, the poor old alarm system screaming its head off doesn't stop the thief from grabbing a few valuable articles in a short period of time and going out. They'll have to find alternate targets.

In reality, that's what it's about, it's the deterrent effect. I believe that we're at the end of the line now where a lot of business owners have got to stand up and say, "we've had enough of this." Simon Bouda getting a taste of what it's like to be caught up in that security cloud. It's amazing what some people fit into a lunch break. Exercise is popular. Others use the time to pay all their bills. Or you could have a facelift. For more chances to win, ask for a Powerball Megapick. Now to the growing demand for personal make-overs. Those who work in the beauty business

are continually refining their techniques. These days you can get a facelift that doesn't even involve surgery or a visit to hospital. It's all over in a lunch break.

Lunchtime at last, and if you still get a break in the middle of the day, what would you rather do, let this fella fill your foccacia or let Allison fill your face? You can get your face lifted at lunchtime. It will take maybe a week to kick in, but you can have the procedure done that will give you a lovely brow lift, facial rejuvenation A cosmetic physician, Dr Jameison specialises in the lunchtime lift and no, she's not pulling your leg. That's a job for a chiropractor. But this bloke will happily pull a few strings and in no time at all you're a brand new you. This is the closest thing to a facelift without surgery. They're called contours, the one thread you do actually want to pull and plastic surgeon Greg Ruff's given mother of three Kerri Tucker reason to smile again. I couldn't be happier with the results. It's improved my face in places I never thought it would. I feel better with myself. I just love it. I love looking in the mirror in the morning. Well, the face is lifted at the neck or the brow with little threads inserted under the skin. And the threads have little barbs on them, each of which does its own share of the lifting. It's biggest benefit is that it's minimally invasive, in other words, all that's left behind are threads and there aren't any scars. These are the non-surgical face savers that are taking the Aussie Smoko by storm. As soon as the lift is done, they're going to see an obvious change in their appearance. Excellent. That looks fine. Now you're ready to go back to work. It's something that they schedule into their lives as they would schedule in their dental appointments or their hairdressing appointments or their personal training. It all sounds a bit like McDonald's medicine but there's actually a word for Allison's point. Injectables is sort of the broad umbrella term that we give to Botox, which everyone has heard of now. Fillers. And other more permanent fillers. Injectables may sound like something you'd buy at a supermarket for smack addicts but us Aussies are a malleable lot and if we can swallow fast food, why not fast about face? We do their injectables, their beauticians would do their facials, the hairdresser would do their hair colour and it's all complimentary. The Australian public has a great affinity to cosmetic surgery. The president of our cosmetic surgery college Dr Michael Zacharia is expecting to get even busier.

So I think the Australian public are going to take this on board with great enthusiasm. Maria Vassilokous certainly has. I've been getting Botox since I was 30 years of age and now I'm 33. I get them periodically, probably every six months. lunc so much Maria liked how she looked after lunch so much she left her successful law practice to work in the injectable world. I just loved everything about this field. and cosmetic procedures is just something I really wanted to get involved in. So I gave law away and decided to come work for Allison. Of course, some argue it's a shortcut to catastrophe. There's still the raging debate about unrealistic body image. Everywhere we're going there's the pressure of trying to catch up with or keep up with the ideal. The trouble is is the bar is always going to be moved. So we're never going to be able to achieve perfection. Roberta Honigman counsels cosmetic patients whose procedures have been,

well, less than perfect. Who says what's perfect? I mean it's somebody's idea, it's an advertising executive's idea or it's something that's very much of the moment, not the culture and maybe in 10 years time, the look will be different. Maria really hopes that Roberta's wrong because as a lawyer she's really prepared - Maria's getting rid of wrinkles she hasn't even got yet. I get them to prevent and delay ageing.

Stamped out or eerad dated. Sure,

if you look g you're going to fill better. So there you have it. Now you can fill your belly, get Botoxed and blow dried all before the boss even twigs that you're gone and apparently that goes for blokes as well. And if you think this is the way of the future,

Hey, what's wrong with a few

Hey, what's wrong with a few wrinkles? It's the best thing I've

ever done. Chris Hill with the latest version of the lunchtime quickie. And there's more information, if you'd like it, at our website: Alright, here's a story about a big bank, a finance broker, a used car dealer and their roles in the sale of a motor vehicle

that's a complete disgrace. This is a warning to every one of us about a credit trap that a trusting teenager just never saw coming. The only way I can put it is absolutely dodgy and disgusting. I'm paying $21,000 for a 1992 Daihatsu Applause that's worth dogs biscuits basically. It's ridiculous. I can't even register the car. Do you even have a soul? That full story for you tomorrow night. I'll be back with you then. Enjoy your evening. Goodnight. Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre.