Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts

Monday, 20 November 2017

The depths to which xenophobia and bigotry has reduced Australia


Australia began to ignore its obligations under international law in 1992 and its determination to turn back asylum seeker boats and reduce the number of refugees accepted into this country grew apace until this is the situation in November 2017.

The New York Times, 18 November 2017:

Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.

Papua New Guinea officials and local leaders, enraged at how the camp’s closure was handled, have demanded to know why Australia is not doing more to help the men.

HuffPost, 18 November 2017:

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's main medical association called on Saturday for the government to allow independent doctors and other health experts to help more than 400 asylum seekers languishing inside a recently closed detention center in Papua New Guinea.

The asylum seekers have shut themselves inside the Australian-run Manus Island Centre for the past 18 days, defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to close it in a standoff the United Nations describes as a "looming humanitarian crisis".

Australia has shut access to the center, and staff, including doctors, have left, leaving the men without sufficient food, clean water, power or medical care.

Members of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) voted unanimously on Saturday to call on the government to grant access to the center so doctors could assess the men's health, wellbeing and living conditions.

"The AMA has made many representations on this matter, both publicly and in private but, with a worsening and more dangerous situation emerging on Manus, the federal council strongly believes that urgent action and answers are needed," AMA President Michael Gannon said.

The Australian, 17 November 2017:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has warned New Zealand it may damage its relationship with the government if it chooses to take Manus Island refugees without the approval of Australia.

Mr Dutton said New Zealand and Papua New Guinea “would have to think through” the impact it would have on their relationship with Australia if they made a unilateral agreement to resettle refugees from the offshore detention centre.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has put pressure on the Turnbull government to accept its offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island. The PNG Supreme Court ruled last week the asylum-seekers and refugees were probably the responsibility of PNG, opening the door for an agreement to resettle refugees without permission from Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2017:

As the Manus Island detention centre stand-off entered its fifth day, Mr Turnbull held talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, where she formally extended to Mr Turnbull the offer to take in 150 people. "The offer is very genuine and remains on the table," she said.

But Mr Turnbull said Australia remained focused on the US refugee resettlement deal, which has so far resulted in 54 people being resettled. The US deal covers up to 1250 people but US President Donald Trump dislikes it and vetting is taking a long time.

"In the wake of that deal obviously we can consider other ones," Mr Turnbull said. "We thank New Zealand for making an offer – we are not taking it up at this time."

New Zealand first made its offer to Julia Gillard's government in 2013 but it has been rejected by both Labor and the Coalition. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has now called on Mr Turnbull to accept it, saying it is similar to the US deal.

Sky News, 4 November 2017:

The United Nations human rights office has called on Australia to restore food, water and health services to about 600 interned refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea, which Canberra cut off three days ago.

The detainees in the Manus Island Centre have defied attempts by the governments of Australia and PNG to close the camp, saying they fear violent reprisals from the local community if they are moved to other 'transit centres'.

'We call on the Australian government ... who interned the men in the first place to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services,' UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing on Friday.

Australia has an obligation to do so under international human rights law and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, he said.

There was no immediate comment from Australia or its representatives in Geneva. Its government has said the camp had been ruled illegal by PNG authorities and it had committed to supply other sites for 12 months.

Colville joined the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in warning of an 'unfolding humanitarian emergency' in the centre where asylum seekers began digging wells on Thursday to try to find water as their food supplies dwindled.

The remote Manus Island centre has been a key part of Australia's disputed immigration policy under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, detaining them instead in PNG and Nauru in the South Pacific.

'We repeat our overall concerns about Australian offshore processing centres which are unsustainable, inhumane and contradictory to its human rights obligations,' Colville said.

Around 500 of the men have still not had their asylum claims processed, he said.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

On 15 November 2017 the far-right of both Coalition parties are going to attempt to scuttle genuine marriage equality in Australia


“Liberal senator James Paterson’s private members bill to “protect religious freedoms” would enshrine exceptionalism discriminating against gays. Gays would be allowed to marry, but anyone and everyone who wanted to deny them service would be legally allowed to do so. We don’t tolerate such discrimination based on race or ethnicity.” [Professor of Politics, University of Western Australia, Peter van Onselen writing in The Australian, 13 November 2017]


It comes as no surprise that this bill is being sponsored by that chinless wonder, former Institute of Public Affairs member and Liberal Senator for Victoria James William Paterson (pictured left).


The Australian, 13 November 2017:

A conservative-backed same-sex marriage bill enshrining wide-reaching shield laws for celebrants, businesses, educators, charities and parents opposed to gay marriage will be taken to the Coalition partyroom in a looming showdown over freedom of speech and religious protections.

The 34-page bill, obtained by The Australian and to be released today by conservative Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, would override state and territory anti-discrimination and freedom-of-speech laws to extend protections beyond religious affiliation to anyone who holds a “conscientious belief” in traditional marriage.

Significantly, the bill also ­includes a “safe schools” clause to confer rights to parents who want to remove their children from classes if they believe the values being taught do not accord with a traditional view of marriage.

In what will become a potentially critical test of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the bill will be taken to the Liberals’ partyroom when it next meets in two weeks and presented as an alternative model to that favoured by moderates and sponsored by ­Liberal ­senator Dean Smith, which offers only limited protection.

However, it is believed there are plans to table the bill in the Senate as early as Wednesday if needed following a likely Yes ­result in the gay marriage postal plebiscite.

The release of the draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) bill 2017 will blindside moderate Liberal MPs who last week were demanding the release of any proposed conservative-backed model.

The bill is expected to receive qualified support today from the majority of the conservative bloc and will present a challenge to moderate MPs, with Senator ­Paterson being an open supporter of gay marriage.

Some conservative MPs, however, are likely to argue that the bill does not go far enough with new polling revealing overwhelming public support for laws to protect freedom of speech, religion and parental rights.

The bill requires not only amendments to the Marriage Act but an amendment to the federal Sex Discrimination Act. It would also override prevailing state and territory anti-discrimination laws that offer no protection for people with a traditional view of marriage.

The protections to shield proponents of traditional marriage from civil law suits, however, will be limited to only those goods and services directly related to the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage or the provision of a wedding. This includes goods and ser­vices provided by florists, bakers, hotels or function centres but only so far as they relate to a same-sex ­wedding.

Senator Paterson, who sat with Senator Smith on the Senate committee ­inquiry into same-sex ­marriage, said the bill better reflected the recommendations on preserving human rights and the protections of a diversity of views.

“If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms. No one should want to see the messy court cases that have occurred after same-sex marriage was legalised in other countries,” Senator Paterson said

The potential clash with Liberal moderates was foreshadowed yesterday with North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman telling Sky News the debate over religious freedoms was a separate issue to same-sex marriage.

“If Australians vote for marriage equality and then ... the parliament for any reason delays or seeks to obfuscate or seeks to thwart the wishes of the Australian people, then I think the view of our parliament, the view of this process will be significantly diminished,” he said. “We should have it resolved before Christmas, I don’t think Australians will tolerate delay.”

“What we’ve seen during this debate is the conflation of a whole range of issues which frankly have nothing to do with the Marriage Act. And they can be debated. Protecting religious freedoms is something that Liberals feel very strongly about. But they shouldn’t be confused with this bill which is designed to deliver marriage equality.”

While the bill being proposed by conservatives gives effect to changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, it proposes more than 80 amendments covering six key protection provisions that Senator Paterson insists would ensure Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The most contested amendment is likely to arise from a new definition of “conscientious objection” which offers protection to anyone from being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding “against their sincerely held ­beliefs”.

Anti-detriment laws would also be applied to prevent government agencies taking adverse action against a person who holds a ­traditional marriage belief and ­extend that shield protection to professions that are licensed, such as doctors and lawyers. Businesses and individuals would, however, not be included, preserving freedom of association.

Charities that held a belief in traditional marriage could not be stripped of their charitable status, as has occurred in other countries, while Christian schools and institutions would be protected in teaching traditional marriage.

Most critical to the case put by MPs, is parents’ rights to choose to remove their children from school classes that conflict with their values, providing a safeguard for parents who object to the controversial Safe Schools program.

The Private Member's Bill:

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Are NSW police racially profiling young offenders?


Junkee, 26 October 2017:

A NSW Police intelligence program that uses secret algorithms to identify suspects who may commit a “future crime” is disproportionately targeting young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a comprehensive new report.

The ‘Policing Young People in NSW’ report was published by the Youth Justice Coalition, a network of youth workers, lawyers, academics and policy experts. It was written by Dr Vicki Sentas, an academic at the University of New South Wales, and Camilla Pandolfni, a solicitor at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The report is the first comprehensive look at the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP), a NSW Police program that “seeks to prevent future offending by targeting repeat offenders and people police believe are likely to commit future crime”.

The STMP involves the use of “risk assessment tools” and algorithms that take into account a series of “risk factors” to identify potential future criminals. Suspects in the program are categorised on a scale from “low risk” to “extreme risk” and then targeted by police officers through regular house visits and the use of stop and search powers.

The criteria used to identify suspects is not publicly available, and individuals targeted through the STMP are not notified of the reasons behind their risk categorisation. The whole program is managed internally by the police and there are no specific laws or regulations governing its operation.


The preliminary findings based on this research are:

* Disproportionate use against young people and Aboriginal people: Data shows the STMP disproportionately targets young people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has been used against children as young as ten.

* Patterns of ‘oppressive policing’ that may be damaging relationships between police and young people: Young people targeted on the STMP experience a pattern of repeated contact with police in confrontational circumstances such as through stop and search, move on directions and regular home visits. The STMP risks damaging relationships between young people and the police. Young people, their families or legal representatives are rarely aware of criteria used to add or remove people from the STMP. As the case studies show, young people experience the STMP as a pattern of oppressive, unjust policing.

* Increasing young people’s costly contact with the criminal justice system and no observable impact on crime prevention: The STMP has the effect of increasing vulnerable young people’s contact with the criminal justice system. Application of the STMP can be seen to undermine key objectives of the NSW youth criminal justice system, including diversion, rehabilitation and therapeutic justice. The research has identified several instances where Aboriginal young people on Youth Koori Court therapeutic programs have had their rehabilitation compromised by remaining on the STMP. There is no publicly available evidence that the STMP reduces youth crime.

* Encouraging poor police practice: In some instances, the exercise of police search powers in relation to a young person on the STMP have been found unlawful by the courts. The STMP may be inadvertently diminishing police understanding of the lawful use of powers (set out in the Law Enforcement Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 (NSW) (LEPRA)) and thereby exposing police to reduced efficacy and civil action. * No transparency and an absence of oversight, scrutiny or evaluation: The operation of the STMP is not transparent or accountable. Criteria for placement on the STMP are not publicly available, individuals cannot access their STMP plan and it is unclear what criteria are used by police to remove a person from the STMP…..

Based on the research and findings presented here, the report recommends that:

1. NSW Police discontinue applying the STMP to children under 18. Children suspected of being at medium or high risk of reoffending should be considered for evidence-based prevention programs that address the causes of reoffending (such as through Youth on Track, Police Citizens Youth Clubs NSW (PCYC) or locally based programs developed in accordance with Just Reinvest NSW), rather than placement on an STMP.

2. NSW Police make the STMP policy and operational arrangements publicly available to enable transparency and accountability.

3. NSW Police amend the STMP policy so that any person considered to have a ‘low risk’ of committing offences not be subject to the STMP.

4. NSW Police amend the STMP Policy to mandate formal notification by police to any individual placed on a STMP, including reasons for placement on the STMP and the date of next review. Subsequent notifications to individuals on an STMP should outline the outcome of the review and reasons for the STMP being maintained or discontinued.

5. NSW Police make data on the STMP publicly available through the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR). Available data should include demographic information (age, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status, ethnicity, Local Area Command LAC), as well as data on the length of time enrolled in the STMP and the category of risk determined.

6. NSW Police commission BOCSAR to evaluate whether the STMP is reducing youth crime.

7. NSW Police provide all police officers with formal training on the STMP which:

i. Clarifies its status as an intelligence tool;

ii. Provides guidance on the criteria for inclusion and exclusion from the program and the alternative programs available;

iii. Sets out its operational requirements, and limits; and iv. Provides guidance on the relationship of the STMP to the law. For example, training should clarify that a persons’ inclusion on an STMP cannot provide a basis for grounding a reasonable suspicion (either on its own or together with a number of other factors) under LEPRA.

8. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) conduct a comprehensive review of the STMP.1 The terms of reference of the recommended LECC review should include consideration of whether the STMP:

i. is effective and appropriate in dealing with the risk of offending in young people under 25 and children;

ii. is effective and appropriate in dealing with the risk of offending in adults;

iii. is effective and appropriate in relation to other vulnerable people (as defined in clause 28 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Regulation 2016), including those with impaired intellectual or physical functioning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and persons from non-English speaking backgrounds;

iv. is consistent with NSW policy and practice for juvenile justice including principles of diversion from the criminal justice system as well as NSW law, including the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW), and the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW); and

v. is consistent with NSW Police policies and practices for policing children and young people, including the NSW Police Force Youth Strategy, as well as the Aboriginal Strategic Direction and Aboriginal Action Plans, the NSW Domestic Violence Strategy, the NSW Police Disability Inclusion Action Plan and all other policies and procedures regarding vulnerable persons.

In the course of the review, the LECC should consult with other professional disciplines such as mental health practitioners, Family and Community Services Managers, the Department of Justice, and community workers about best practice in diversion, crime prevention and the needs of young people.
Finally, this report is the first publicly available study about the STMP. The unjustified secrecy around the STMP has prevented appropriate, transparent, program evaluation and more thorough examination of the impact the STMP is having on young people, crime prevention and police practice. This report’s conclusion that the operation of the STMP is likely to be having damaging effects on young people is compelling grounds for further investigation and external scrutiny.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Abbott's love affair with US 'hate group'


“Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries. This is catholic, universal orthodoxy and it is desperately crucial for cultural renewal. Christians must strive to build glorious cultural cathedrals, rather than shanty tin sheds.” — Blackstone Legal Fellowship website, 2014
In January 2016 sacked former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott addressed a far-right Christian ‘hate group' in New York USA during the parliamentary break, on the subject of family values and marriage.
On 23 October this year the Courier Mail reported:

backbencher and staunch “no” advocate, Tony Abbott has made the decision to return to the US at the end of the month and once again address the Christian right-wing organisation, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Defined by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLA) in the US as an anti-LGBTI hate group, the ADF not only supports the recriminalisation of homosexuality — in the US and overseas — but according to the SPLC website, it has also “defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to paedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity.”

Abbott states he’s “honoured” to be invited to speak to this group again…..

While his first trip to the US to speak to the ADF last year drew raised brows and concerns, this second trip is obviously timed to ensure Abbott will not only have whatever ammunition he needs to water down any consequent legislation arising out of a conscience vote on SSM, but also demonstrate his zealotry towards another cause that, post being PM and regardless of his party’s position, he’s made his own.

This second time around Abbott once again turned to family values and marriage, with the addition of the same-sex marriage postal survey currently underway.

Offering up gems such as these: 

“Romantic love alone can’t always sustain the life-long commitment and the shared sacrifice for the common good that’s at the heart of marriage. We will all lose, in the brave new world of same sex marriage, if commitment is watered down; and if fewer people marry, fewer couples have children, fewer relationships last, and fewer children have stable homes” 
and 
“Campaigns for same sex marriage and the like are a consequence of our civilizational self-doubt and the collapse of cultural self-confidence. The decline of belief has meant a reluctance to assert principles and a fear of giving offence. We find it hard to say “no” to gays who want to marry; just as we’re finding it hard to say “no” to Muslims who want several wives. We’re reluctant to let Christian parents take their children out of sex education classes; but once the local imam gets involved, I suspect, our cultural diffidence and our double standards might start to run the other way. Here in America, organisations like the Alliance Defending Freedom are a sign that Western civilisation still has its friends. The organisation in Australia, as yet largely informal, as yet basically ad hoc, as yet nameless, that has sprung into being to defend marriage shows that, in my country too, there remain embers of respect for our traditions.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Asylum seekers in Australia forbidden to have 'unauthorised' pets. Sound familiar?

 
Department of Immigration and Border Protection Directive – Australia 2017

SBS News, 19 October 2017:

People [asylum seekers] receiving government payments while they wait to see if they will be granted protection have been told they must seek permission from the immigration department and their landlords before buying an animal.

ABC News, 20 October 2017:

The policy change specifies taxpayer money cannot be spent on pets or their "vaccination, equipment, toys and bedding"



Jan. Collection of fur coats or any furs from Jews. Also any woollen clothing or shoes.
Feb. 17 Jews may no longer subscribe to newspapers or magazines.
March 26 Jews must mark the entrance doors to their apartments with a black “Jewish Star”.
April 24 Jews forbidden the use of public transportation.
May 15 Jews forbidden to have dogs, cats and birds. [my yellow highlighting]
May 29 Jews are no longer permitted to visit barber shops.
June 9 Jews must surrender all dispensable clothing.
June 11 Jews no longer receive smoking coupons.
June 20 All Jewish schools closed.
July 17 Blind and deaf Jews may no longer wear armbands identifying their condition in traffic.
Aug. 24 Jews forbidden to perform religious services during Jewish High Holidays.
Sept. 18 Jews can no long buy meat, eggs or milk.
Oct. 4 All Jews still in concentration camps in Germany are to be transferred to extermination camps.
Dec. 24 Economics Ministry orders the confiscation of all metal from Jewish cemeteries (including graves, fences, and gates).

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Horse's Rear of the Year


Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott
Liberal Member for Warringah & sacked former Australian Prime Minister
On the subject of the 2017 Same Sex Marriage national voluntary survey

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined with a compulsory cashless welfare card in 2018



Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined when a compulsory cashless welfare card is brought in next year.

The Federal Government has announced the controversial card will be rolled out across the Wide Bay region, including Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Under the scheme 80 per cent of a person's welfare income is quarantined on a debit-style card, which cannot be used on alcohol, gambling or to withdraw cash.

It will apply to people under the age of 35 who receive dole and parenting payments.

The Wide Bay region has an est. resident population of 144,098 people living across 4.5 million hectares, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The 2016 Census revealed that only 22 per cent of the population stated they had any formal further education after high school and 27.5 per cent stated that their gross weekly incomes were less than $650. Half of those 15 years of age and older had incomes below $500.

In July 2017 Wide Bay had an employment rate of 60.8 per cent, an overall unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent and a youth unemployment rate of 23.6 per cent, according to the Australian Government Labour Market Information Portal and the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office.

Last year in Queensland there were 6.1 unemployed people for every job vacancy.

The number of businesses operating in the Wide Bay region has been slowly declining for at least the last five years, with the largest industry clusters being agriculture, construction and retail. The last data published shows barely 21,451 businesses – many of which would be owner operated having no employees or only a small number of employees.

In the Wide Bay region this expansion of the Indue cashless debit card program will initially be imposed on est. 6,700 people in Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay has a population of 56,678 residents, with only 24.8 per cent of the population having any formal further education after high school and half of the population having personal incomes of less than $478 per week.

Families with children make up 48.4 per cent of all family groups and youth unemployment in Hervey Bay mirrors the broader Wide Bay region.

Eventually the cashless debit card program is expected to directly affect up to est. 20,478  individuals as it is rolled out across the region in 2018 and, the flow-on effect will touch their families and local businesses.

A media release by the Minister for Human Services and the Member for Hinkler stated as a principal reason for introducing the cashless debit card into the Hervey Bay community:

The consultations also revealed significant problems with alcohol, drugs and gambling, particularly among young families.  Many community sector leaders were concerned that money meant for children was not being spent on them. The card will ensure that money meant for children will not be spent on alcohol, gambling or drugs.

However, I’m not quite sure that 2016-17 crime statistics for the Qld Police District of Wide Bay-Burnett actually reflects this view.

As it is the Turnbull Government’s intention (sometimes openly stated) to force people off Centrelink’s books by controlling how welfare recipients spend their benefits, I think I can safely say that by the end of 2018 the Liberal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien may find that he was only a one-term wonder in federal parliament and the Nationals Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt may also find that two parliamentary terms is his limit.

"You can opt out of it [the card] by getting a job."
Minister  for Human Services and MP for Aston Alan Tudge
21 September 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What exactly is the point of this Indue Limited cashless debit card, Prime Minster Turnbull?


Dept. of Social Security and Dept. of Veteran's Affairs data reveals that by June 2017 there were est. 10.1 million Australians receiving some form of federal government assistance which involved regular or periodic cash transfers into their bank accounts.

The Turnbull Government intends to control how est. 7.5 million of these people spend these transfers by placing the money in cashless debit card accounts and restricting the availability of actual cash to 20 per cent of  the transfer amount.

This income management scheme is being rolled out nationally under the guise of an unrestricted 'trial'.

However the justification for this scheme is beginning to crumble under closer scrutiny.

News.com.au, 14 September 2017:

WELFARE recipients spend less on alcohol as a portion of their income than all other Australians, new figures show.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics this week released its household expenditure statistics report, breaking down how Australians spend their money.

And it’s managed to crush a few stereotypes with the data.

The report shows that Aussies overall spend more than half of their average weekly spend on goods and services on basics, covering things like housing, food, energy, health care and transport.

Aussies spend an average $846 of the weekly household spend of $1,425 on these items and service.

Included in these basics are food and non-alcoholic beverages, but booze is counted separately, and the results make for some interesting reading.

Australians whose main source of income was from government pensions and allowances, were found to spend an average of $12.14 out of their $677.19 on alcoholic drinks, or 1.8 per cent.

Overall, Australian households on average were found to spend $31.95 of their $1425.03 weekly spend on alcohol — a total of 2.2 per cent.

Those whose main source of household income came from their employer, or their own business, were each found to spend 2.5 per cent of their weekly household spend on booze, and those whose income fitted into the “other” category indulged 2.5 per cent of their weekly budget.

The findings come amid a government push for a cashless welfare card that quarantines a large chunk of Centrelink payments and can’t be used to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling.

It seems Turnbull, Abbott and Co have just lost the excuse that welfare recipients as a group are heavy boozers.

Well, I hear you say; then it must be that they need their incomes managed because they all smoke like chimneys. Except tobacco sales have been falling for years and its’s not as easy to find a low-income or unemployed smoker of any age as it once was.

Or if they don’t have the first two ‘vices’, then it must be all those lottery tickets they purchase that show a need to control their finances. But the facts set out in Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.93) show that households in Australia might have spent as much as 0.002% of their disposable income each year on Lotto or the like. Hardly a national scandal.

But what about those ubiquitous poker machines? Well again according to Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.152) households really go overboard there - they actual spend per capita around 1.057% of their annual disposable income on this form of gambling and in the last 20 years on record this figure has never climbed higher than 1.808% annually. In dollar terms this means that welfare recipients are probably spending between $0 and $5 per week on electronic gambling.

So if most people receiving welfare payments don’t constantly have a drink in their hand and a fag on their lips while they look up the Lotto results and if they're not all hunched over poker machines on a daily basis – what exactly is the point of this universal cashless debit card?

Of course! It has to be because most of these 7.5 million welfare recipients are relatively poor - which is an obvious character defect requiring punishment coercive correction according to those financially comfortable right-wing politicians in Canberra and their fellow travellers.

"Dear neighbours, Writing to you like this is taking me well out of my comfort zone but the government has made it necessary because of the postal survey. I am writing to seek your approval for my partner and I to marry."


The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 15 September 2017:

Same-sex plea

Here is the text of a letter I will be sending to all my immediate neighbours: 

“Dear neighbours, Writing to you like this is taking me well out of my comfort zone but the government has made it necessary because of the postal survey. I am writing to seek your approval for my partner and I to marry.

Some of you may know us or know of us. We have lived in Yamba for two years now and settled well into the community. You may know Dean from when he worked at the cafe in town, or at the bottle shop. You may have seen me working with Landcare or at the museum, and I’ve been pretty active opposing the installation of traffic lights at Treelands Drive. Maybe you’ve seen us together doing the shopping at Coles, enjoying the beach or sharing a drink with friends at the Pacific of a Friday afternoon.

In other words, we are ordinary people going about our lives in an ordinary way, and striving to put back in to the community when we can.

All we ask now is that our relationship be granted the same respect (including legal rights but not just that) that others are able to take for granted when they marry.

This is not make-believe, we are not just playing house, we have been together for 15 years and cannot imagine not being together. We have been together through good times and bad, holidays, illness, family celebrations like weddings, the arrival of new nieces and nephews, and we have supported each other through tough times too like the loss of loved ones.

We would dearly love to declare and celebrate our relationship very publicly with our family and friends.

We have no other agenda. No scheme to infiltrate schools and indoctrinate children. I was a teacher for 24 years and wouldn’t dream of supporting anything I thought could be harmful to them. We don’t seek to restrict anyone’s religious freedom. I am more than happy to respect the beliefs of others, I just don’t want them imposed on me.

The postal survey must seem a terrible waste of time and money to most of you.

I agree. It is not how I would have preferred to see this question resolved. But it is here and while it might seem of little import to most of you, and will have no direct effect on most of you, to Dean and I it is critically important. The thought that it might not be approved is to be honest a bit scary and pretty hurtful.

We respectfully ask you to consider what I have said and return your postal ballot with a YES response.

Graeme East, Yamba

Sunday, 24 September 2017

"My daughter doesn't need my permission to get married. But she needs yours."


The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 15 September 2017:

Marriage certification

Those of us who thought, like the old song, that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” have had a lot of confusing information thrown at us recently about same-sex couples and the way their non-marriages give them all the same rights as married people. My wife and I were surprised, therefore, to attend the Roads and Maritime Service Centre last week to change our car registration, where we were asked to produce our marriage certificate.

This led me to wonder what other equal rights might not be there, particularly when my daughter, currently unable to marry her long-time partner, gets to our age.

Will she be asked for a marriage certificate if her not legally recognised wife is in hospital, or worse? Australia Post apparently charges hundreds of dollars for a name change, but not if you can provide a – you guessed it – marriage certificate.

Those who oppose same sex marriage are resting their hopes on the oldies like me.

But if you think we are going to support discrimination against our own kids and grandkids, you are about to be very disappointed.

My daughter doesn’t need my permission to get married. But she needs yours. Please join me in voting YES.

Desmond Bellamy, Byron Bay

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Turnbull Government's insistence on denying a basic human right to so many Australian citizens is a disgrace


The Guardian, 2 September 2017:

The former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs has called for an end to the Northern Territory intervention and the government’s cashless welfare card trial, labelling them violations of international law.

The professor is one of 200 prominent Australians, including Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe and former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes, to support a statement prepared with Indigenous elders that calls the intervention a “crushing” failure.

Speaking at the University of Melbourne on Monday, Triggs said the NT intervention had harmed Indigenous communities since its introduction 10 years ago.

  “Assault and sexual assault convictions are about the same as before. Domestic violence has significantly increased. Incarceration of juveniles is now at world record heights.

“We’ve had a 500% rise in Indigenous youth suicide since the years 2007-11,” she said.

The intervention, enacted in 2007 under the Howard government, suspended the application of the Racial Discrimination Act, enacted harsh penalties on alcohol and pornography, and removed customary laws in certain areas of the territory after reports of high rates of child sexual abuse.

In 2012, the Gillard government passed the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act, which extended the laws until 2022.

“The Act and its extension breach the Racial Discrimination Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Triggs said. 

“While it was nominally designed to protect children, it’s become a chilling act of political cynicism and opportunism, an overreach of executive decision-making, a failure of parliament and the manipulation of truth.”….

Speaking on Monday, Triggs also condemned the NT’s BasicsCard and the government’s trial of cashless welfare cards in Western Australia and South Australia.

“There are significant problems with the card [and] the evidence on the ground is to the contrary. It is wrong and illegal as a matter of international law to penalise Aboriginal Australians where the impact of the BasicsCard is racially discriminatory.”

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Australian Politics: when is a welfare program trial not a trial?


When is a welfare program trial no longer a trial? When the Turnbull Government decides to remove those restriction which made it a trial……….

This Bill removes section 124PF of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, which specifies that the cashless debit card trial will occur in up to three discrete locations, include no more than 10,000 people, and will end on 30 June 2018. Removing this section will support the extension of arrangements in current sites, and enable the expansion of the cashless debit card to further sites. Individual sites, once identified, will be determined by disallowable legislative instruments. [Explanatory Memorandum, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017]

What the federal government proposes to implement is in practice an open-ended cashless debit card roll-out at the discretion of Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Aston, Alan Tudge

BACKGROUND

Human rights implications
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights conducted a review of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, which notes that the Cashless Debit Card engages and limits three human rights: the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination. [Ibid, p. 6]

See Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Human rights scrutiny report, 8 September 2015, pp. 20-29.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Millionaire mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's cashless welfare card adopted by the Turnbull Coalition Government is not the answer


NITV, 14 August 2017:

The income management trial was set up in the east Kimberley in April 2016 to help curb problem drinking, gambling and domestic violence - elements that were present in the lives of 13 young Indigenous people who killed themselves over a three-and-a-half year period.

University of Melbourne development studies lecturer, Dr Elise Klein is researching the policy and told the inquest the compulsory program was rolled out without proper community consultation, silencing many Aboriginal voices and causing tension and frustration amongst a diverse population.

Dr Klein told the inquest via video link from Melbourne the scheme represents neo-colonialism and government overreach.

"It's explained as the 'white card'," she said.

"The card has been a symbol of disempowerment, a symbol of state intervention, punitive intervention over someone's life."

Dr Klein said the system was chaotically introduced with design flaws, including a balance-checking mobile app for people who "didn't know how to use the internet let alone own a mobile phone"

Many of the children who claimed their own lives were inadequately fed, but Dr Klein said it was "naive at best" to think controlling parents' consumption would effectively combat this, insisting the card made money management "much harder" for people already living below the poverty line.

Dr Klein said many of the scheme's participants had told her using the card was like going back to the "ration days", referring to when Aboriginal people working on pastoral stations were paid in tea and sugar, as opposed to real wages.

"Young people watching this play out in their families can only feel extremely debilitated," she said.

The problem is compounded for jobseekers subjected to the coalition's controversial remote work for the dole scheme, which Dr Klein slammed as oppressive.

She called for bottom up, community-led development of services to address the complex social dysfunction plaguing Indigenous communities.

Earlier, one of the last people to speak to a 13-year-old boy before he killed himself, former Kununurra District High School deputy principal Jamieson Coltman, told the inquest child protection authorities failed to intervene despite reports of domestic violence.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Charlottesville incidents to which US President Donald J. Trump gives tacit support - WARNING: violent and disturbing images




The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2017:

He [President Trump] argued that both sides had been guilty of violence, he noted that the white supremacists indeed had a permit to protest, but the "other group" did not. He insisted that both sides had "bad people" and "very fine people" and he drew an equivalency between George Washington, who help create the United States after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783, and General Robert E. Lee, who led the secessionist armies that killed more American troops than any other foe in the defence of slavery nearly a century later.

The political and media response afterwards was immediate and shocked. Again Republican leaders were forced to come out to rebuke and distance themselves from their ostensible leader. In a long Twitter statement Marco Rubio declared, "Mr President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suspect that the reaction to "Unite The Right Rally" marches in Charlottesville is not what Neo-Nazi, Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups were expecting

From 11 to 12 August 2017 extreme right wing groups gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia USA to participate in a two-day rally. Counter protesters also gathered over that same time period.

By the evening of 12 August two police officers and one counter protester were dead and at least twenty counter protesters were wounded.

Unite The Right march participant……

"We are stepping off the Internet in a big way. For instance last night at the Torch Log there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realised they are not atomised individuals, they are part of a larger whole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organising on the Internet and now they are coming out and now as you can see today we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth and at some point we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level – you ain't seen nothin yet." [Robert "Azzmador" Ray, feature writer at The Daily Stormer, video, 12 August 2017]

Reaction to the white supremacist violence……
Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast..

As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller —  a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before. 

GoDaddy – the internet domain registrar and web hosting service – and Google cancelled the Daily Stormer's domain name registration on Sunday, saying they prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence. The Daily Stormer helped organise the violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday at which a civil rights activist died.

On Twitter, the Daily Stormer's feed is no longer visible; instead, the page on Wednesday afternoon reflects its account has been "suspended." A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies."

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We've stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again.

US companies are blocking hate groups from key services such as payments, cyber security defences and social media sites after the violence in Charlottesville, despite questions over the consequences for freedom of speech. Leading payment and credit card groups MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial Services and Visa have joined Silicon Valley companies Twitter and Cloudflare to become the latest corporations to try to block neo-Nazis' access to funds and the internet. Several of the payments companies added they did not ban the use of their services because the customers expressed offensive views — but because they violated their terms of service or incited violence.

Most leaders on the councils thought Trump's statement on Monday, in which he condemned the hate groups by name, was sufficient. But they were furious and disgusted with Trump's follow-up remarks on Tuesday, according to the offices of two CEOs.
By Tuesday night, at least nine members decided to drop out individually, and reached out to Schwarzman, who then proposed dismantling the council entirely.
A dozen members of that strategy and policy council participated in a conference call Wednesday, during which they all agreed to dissolve the group, the people close to the decision said. Schwarzman then notified the White House. And after that, Trump tweeted that he was "ending both" advisory councils. The business leaders had expected that Trump would portray the developments as his own decision, the sources said

#BREAKING: #Cville car suspect, #UniteTheRight rally organizer, & alt-right leaders face $3M lawsuit from 2 ppl injured in car attack

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