Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Abbott & Co take keeping asylum seekers in the dark to a new low

Not content with keeping Australian voters in the dark over the fate of one hundred and fifty men, women and children being detained at sea, these asylum seekers are literally not seeing much daylight.

Family members among 157 asylum seekers being held on the high seas are being held in separate rooms on a customs vessel but are allowed out for meals, according to documents lodged with the High Court on Tuesday.
While it was previously stated that 153 asylum seekers were on board a boat that was intercepted off Christmas Island more than three weeks ago, the documents say the actual number is 157.
A document filed by the Abbott government reveals that the national security committee of cabinet decided on July 1, two days after the boat was intercepted, that those on board "should be taken to a place other than Australia".
Their document says the asylum seekers are permitted "approximately three hours' outside during the day in natural light for meals", but says it would be unsafe to give them unrestricted movement.
The national security committee of cabinet includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott, deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Attorney-General George Brandis, Defence Minister David Johnston and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The document maintains they were acting within the scope of the Maritime Powers Act in detaining the asylum seekers on the customs vessel and had no obligation to afford them procedural fairness.
Forty-nine of these detained persons (all allegedly from a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camp in Pondicherry, India) have taken the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to the High Court of Australia in JARK and Ors v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Anor [2014] HCATrans 150 (18 July 2014).

The matter  so far:

Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

An I can't believe my ears musing: The July 2014 Clarence Valley Council Environment, Planning And Works Committee meeting stuck in the memory of many in the valley because of the number of times various councillors stated that they were concerned about a development application/s but were going to vote for it anyway. One councillor stated words to the effect that he had concerns or objections covering one entire DA but was voting it through anyway. Oh dear......

A lotsa moola musing: Did you know that in the 2012-13 financial year Clarence Valley Council management handled two Code of Conduct complaints at a total cost of $19,900.

A price rise musing: From 1 July 2014 cat and dog lifetime registration fees in New South Wales will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index.
The new fees are: 
Desexed animal: $51 (from $49)
Non-desexed animal: $188 (from $182)
Breeder concession:$51 (from $49)
Pensioner concession (desexed animal only) $20 (from $19).

A qwerty musing: There have been a few giggles round the catnip patch after my friend Rex the German Shepherd told us that a certain hinterland-based Clarence Valley councillor has taken to telling people that it was a typo which saw one document sent to the Division of Local Government wrongly assert that an unnamed councillor had been found to have breached the Code of Conduct. Sniggers grew when more and more moggies realized that “0”and “1” are on opposite sides of the qwerty keyboard and, someone on council needed to have a prodigious hand span to achieve the so-called typo.
Because Clarence Valley Council has not removed the incorrect document from its website or asked Google to remove it from its search engine results – feel free to view this outrageous re-writing of local government history here. Because it doesn't take a genius to identify the councillor in question, the fact that Council has left the unemended document online probably leaves it open to being taken to court.

A stock exchange musing: Ever since I fell in love with that foxy young ginger cat fighting for market share in a Whiskas commercial, I've been a keen observer (between naps) of stocks and trading floor weirdness. So I noticed that on 8 May 2014 Twenty-First Century Fox Inc removed itself from the Australian Stock Exchange. One less reason for the national media to pretend that Rupert Murdoch is an Aussie business mogul?

An unbelievably stupid decision musing: In June 2014 Origin Energy placed one of its long time NSW North Coast customers on a 12 month Financial Difficulty payment schedule - even though that person's account was over $800 in credit at the time. I say well done, Origin, your call centres have managed to annoy, upset and alienate one elderly customer. #FAIL

An I can't believe I heard that musing: Which NSW North Coast mayor said he could be trusted ‘because I have the numbers‘?

A parroted musing: Crazy the cockatiel who spends his 'holidays' in my home wonders why Tony Abbott's master, News Corp, is insisting plain packaging doesn't work when data says otherwise.

An about the only type of success possible musing: The only place Aussie PM Tony Abbott appears to be polling well - on an American comedy show: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): Tony Abbott, 926,994 views on YouTube after 6 days & as of early morning 9 June 2014.

An ongoing saga musing: NSW Police v Geoffrey William Leviny, Maclean Court House, 9.30am 10 June 2014, Mention (Police), Criminal, Case # 201300148044.

A let's kill anything that moves musing: 
583. Mr Borsak [Leader of the Shooters & Fishers Party] to move—That leave be given to bring in a bill for an Act to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 to repeal prohibitions on the use and operation of game parks.(Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Repeal of Game Park Prohibitions) Bill) (Notice given 27 March 2012) [NSW Hansard 15 May 2014]


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Australian Education Minister Called On To Dump Donnelly Now

Open Letter To Minister For Education published on 21 July 2014:

To The Hon Christopher Pyne
Monday 21 July, 2014
CC: Shadow Minster, The Hon Kate Ellis
Dear Minister,
In a recent interview to 2UE on 15th July Kevin Donnelly, Director of the Education Standards Institute, stated:
“If the school community is in favour of it [corporal punishment] then I have not got a problem if it’s done properly”
There is no doubt, given this interview, that Kevin Donnelly has no objection to the use of corporal punishment in schools.
This statement is a reckless and inappropriate endorsement of archaic attitudes and practices in relation to the discipline of children both in schools and society.
In a community where neglect and violence against children has been on the increase, corporal punishment must be seen as a totally inappropriate and ineffective behaviour management strategy for schools.
A National Summit, Behaviour in Australian Schools: Current trends and possibilities, was held in South Australia last week with the clear aim of raising the profile of children and their rights as students in schools.
The Summit brought together significant research on the complexity of behaviour in schools.
This research provides new insights into the ways schools can engage students in their learning and schooling while respecting their dignity, treating them fairly, and allowing and encouraging them to continue their education. It critiqued punitive responses to misbehaviour and offered alternatives.
It is upon this kind of evidence-based research that a senior educational advisor to the government should base his comments.
Harking back to community standards of more than 30 years ago has no relevance to the realities of today or 21st century community expectations.
The educational researchers and other participants involved in the Summit were disconcerted by the comments made by Kevin Donnelly, especially as he is a senior educational advisor to the Federal Education Minister. In this role, the Australian public has a right to expect informed commentary and advice based on sound research.
We call on the government to remove Mr Donnelly from his position as advisor on any matters related to the education of children in Australia.
We call on the government to amend legislation to ensure that the children of Australia are protected from all forms of corporal punishment in schools.
For communication on this matter please phone:
Dr Anna Sullivan 0402 965 844

1. Dr Anna Sullivan
Senior Lecturer
School of Education
University of South Australia

And 181 others whose names and positions can be found here

The Australian goes into overdrive as it tries to resurrect Tony Abbott's political reputation

Russia responds after Tony Abbott’s warning about MH17 crash site probe trumpets The Australian on 21 July 2014 at 8:35PM – in a vain effort to recast Prime Minister Tony Abbott as an international hero.

Abbott’s media team may be working overtime on the Prime Minister’s image, but the fact remains that he was at the back of the queue when it came to contact with the Russian president and, did little more than repeat the early stance of the United Nation’s Security Council.

The day after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down over Ukrainian airspace the Council issued this media release:

At least one media report stated that on 18 July that Russia also demanded a full, independent probe of the downing.

As one of the twenty-four nations speaking at the two-hour long emergency meeting of the Security Council on the same day, the Australian delegation quite properly had this to say:

PHILIPPA KING ( Australia) pointed to mounting evidence that a missile had downed a Malaysian Airlines plane in Ukraine, and that Russian-backed rebels were responsible.  Welcoming the separatists’ decision to allow access to the crash site, she urged the Russian Federation’s full cooperation with investigations.  Despite a Council press statement calling for an investigation, she urged adoption of a resolution that would reinforce the need to grant access to the crash site and for a full, thorough, independent and international investigation.  In 19 Council meetings on Ukraine, “the overwhelming majority” of members had called for an end to violence and destabilization, together with de-escalation of tensions, the laying down by separatists of their weapons and genuine dialogue.  It was “time for the equivocation and dissembling and false narratives of some to stop”, she said.  Russia needed to end provocations and any support for separatists, and to prevent weapons, equipment and fighters flowing across the border.  Pointing to the promise of the four party talks, she hoped to see results from their agreements.

Prime Minister Abbott's rather intemperate language megaphoned through the media saw the Russian president delay making direct contact with him until the evening of Sunday 20 July.

Update 7.26am - the UN Security Council unanimously voter for a draft resolution co-sponsored by thirteen countries, condemning the downing of MH17. The text of the resolution was based on an initial Australian draft amended to remove language which presupposed the result of any independent crash investigation.

One has to suspect that behind the scenes it is Australia’s professional diplomats who are doing the heavy lifting on this issue, while both News Corp and the prime minister’s spin doctors attempt to give all the credit to Abbott.


The Australian rewriting history in Leadership in face of tragedy on 22 July 2014 at 12:00am:

Tony Abbott has found his voice and heart in the wake of the shooting down of Flight MH17. In seeking to reflect the nation’s grief and outrage, the Prime Minister has been tough, measured, compassionate and intuitive. Mr Abbott’s natural instincts have been spot on in asserting the nation’s honour and leading the global community’s response in calling for justice, respect for the victims and proper processes. Bill Shorten, too, has displayed his best characteristics at a time of sorrow and anger. Both leaders have stepped above the domestic fray and presented a united front in demanding action.
This experience should serve as a reminder that Mr Abbott, contrary to the expectations of critics, has made an assured impression on the world stage. His first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Indonesia during a difficult time for bilateral relations. There were revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the tapping of the phone of Indonesia’s first lady, on Labor’s watch, and tensions over boat turnbacks, yet Mr Abbott handled the matters with aplomb. On a trip to North Asia, combining visits to Japan, South Korea and China, Mr Abbott led an impressive delegation of business leaders. The venture managed to promote our trade and economic ties with key partners, while balancing security considerations in the region. On a long-haul trip that included D-Day’s 70th anniversary in France and a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, Mr Abbott showed dignity, a knowledge of history and confidence in handling the complexities of strategic diplomacy.
His nuanced, instinctive approach in these matters is a pointer to the sort of leader he could be if he reached out to voters beyond the comfort zone of talking points and daily retail skirmishing, an operating mode that diminished his Labor predecessors Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. This newspaper has chastised Mr Abbott for relying on a low-risk formula fashioned by his backroom, which has stunted his ability to speak openly and show voters he is intelligent, big-hearted and steady. The current crisis will continue to test his character and skills but it is an opportunity he must grasp.

The Australian's stablemateThe Daily Telegraph joins in:

Taken from @NewtonMark

MH17: Sky News offends the standards of any decent society

In a case of birds of a feather flock together; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott insensitively inserted himself into a national and international tragedy for political advantage during the same period Sky News (part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox through its 39% shareholding in BSkyB) was forced to apologise for an appalling breach of community standards:

London: British broadcaster Sky News has apologised after one of its presenters searched through luggage at the crash site of downed flight MH17 live on air.
In a news broadcast on Sunday, presenter Colin Brazier was shown rooting through personal belongings in an opened suitcase at the site, picking up a set of keys before saying: "We shouldn't really be doing this."

Monday, 21 July 2014

MH17 and the reason why Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will trade on the personal grief of so may families around the world

When a Malaysia Airlines plane went down in March 2014 with all passengers and crew lost Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott made the most of the political opportunity that tragedy presented.

With the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 it would appear that he is again attempting to insert himself into the very real grief of so many families around the world:

And this is the reason why he has seized this opportunity:

The Age, Nielsen Poll, 21 July 2014