Singer Chris Brown cancels Australia, New Zealand tour

R&B singer Chris Brown at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 29, 2015.
R&B singer Chris Brown at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 29, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - American R&B singer Chris Brown has cancelled a planned tour to Australia and New Zealand, his promoter said on Wednesday (Dec 2), after officials indicated he would be denied a visa over his conviction for assaulting pop star Rihanna.

Australia suggested last September it would block Brown's entry due to his criminal record, disrupting plans to bring his One Hell Of A Nite tour Down Under.

His 2009 conviction for assaulting his then-partner pop star Rihanna also meant he could be refused entry to New Zealand, where he was to perform in Auckland.

"Chris Brown's December 2015 tour in both Australia and New Zealand will not take place," Ticketek Australia said in a statement from Brown's promoter on its Facebook page.

It gave no reason why shows in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane were cancelled. But it said: "Mr Brown and the promoters both remain positive that the tour will take place in the near future.

"Mr Brown wishes to express his deepest gratitude to the fans for their support and looks forward to a successful tour in the near future," it added.

It is not known whether Australia's immigration department ultimately denied Brown a visa, and a spokesman saying it could not comment on the case "for reasons of privacy".

After the prospect of his Australia ban was first raised, Brown said he would use the tour to raise awareness about domestic violence.

"My life mistakes should be a wake up call for everyone," he tweeted. "Showing the world that mistakes don't define you."

His clean image crumbled in June 2009 after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in a car in February of that year.

The Grammy award-winning performer was sentenced to five years' probation - now lifted - a year-long anti-domestic violence programme and 180 days of community labour.

He has visited Australia twice since 2009 but newly appointed Minister for Women Michaelia Cash had suggested he may be banned this time amid heightened awareness about family violence.

While his case for a New Zealand concert found unlikely support from some Maori women's advocates, support for the singer was not unanimous, with family and victims groups opposing his visit.

New Zealand lawmaker Judith Collins said last September the singer was not welcome. "We've got enough wife-beaters in this country, he should just bugger off," she said.