Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Vast majority of Australians (84%) support new laws to ban political parties and candidates from making “inaccurate and misleading” claims


The Guardian, 18 August 2019: 

The vast majority of Australians (84%) support new laws to ban political parties and candidates from making “inaccurate and misleading” claims, according to a new poll for the Australia Institute. 

On Sunday the progressive thinktank released a discussion paper canvassing options for truth in political advertising laws, following reports of widespread misinformation in the 2019 election campaign and calls from MPs including independent Zali Steggall and Liberal Jason Falinski for new minimum standards. 

The paper noted that truth in advertising laws operate in South Australia, where the Electoral Commission can request material be withdrawn and retracted and financial penalties apply, and New Zealand, where the media industry is self-regulated by an advertising standards body. 

It argues that industry bodies including Free TV Australia and the Advertising Standards Bureau could regulate truth in advertising, preventing the Australian Electoral Commission from being drawn into the contentious political process of adjudication. 

“Several models for increasing the truthfulness of election campaigns are available to policymakers,” it said. “They are popular and proven to work in other jurisdictions.” 

The paper includes results from a Dynata survey of 1,464 people conducted in the last week of July, with a margin of error of 3%, that found 84% of all voters want truth in advertising laws, with support in Labor, the Coalition and Greens all above the 84% level. 

Most respondents supported a range of penalties including fines (62%), forcing publications to retract claims (60%) and loss of public funding (54%). Criminal charges were supported by 42% of respondents. 

Respondents were unsure who should be the arbiter of truth, with support split between the judicial system (27%), electoral commissions (26%) and industry bodies (21%), with 15% unsure and 7% suggesting a new panel of experts. 

The survey also found 90% support for the proposition that newspapers, TV channels and social media networks should run corrections if they publish inaccurate or misleading ads.....

Friday, 16 August 2019

Galaxy Poll showed 2 out of 3 people believe religious organisations and individuals should not be allowed to discriminate against those who don’t hold the same views


Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Media Release 13 August 2019: 


 Religious Discrimination – What Australia Really Thinks 

The results of a Galaxy Poll, commissioned by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG+) have been released today. 

Mr Morrison needs to consider the opinion of the “Quiet Australians” before he forges ahead with a Religious Discrimination Act, Commission or Commissioner. 

The issues of religious freedom for some are in reality discrimination for others. 

Very few are against religious freedom. But as the Poll shows many are against discrimination. Additionally, Christians in Australia are not persecuted but the legislation is being put in place just as a precaution because marriage equality became a reality in this country in 2017. 

Of those who were polled 51% identified as being religious and 49% identified as having no religion

The Poll shows 63% do not agree that the religious organisations should have the right to discriminate against LGBTIQ people. The same percentage applied when asked if religious organisations should have the right to discriminate against unmarried mothers, divorcees and couples in de facto relationships. (33% identified as Christian)

The Poll also showed that 62% believe religious organisations and individuals should not be discriminated against just because of their faith. 

Additionally, the Poll showed that 68% (2 out of 3) people believe, religious organisations and individuals should not be allowed to discriminate against those who don’t hold the same views. 

The Poll showed that 48% Christians do not agree with discrimination of LGBTIQ people and others who do not comply with the religious organisations ethos, while 13% do agree with discrimination.


Ends

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

A law firm specialising in freedom of religion, speech and conscience lays out the far-right's wish list concerning religious freedom legislation?


Make no mistake, what is in play here is an ideologically-driven push back against the 2017 amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 and, an attempt to regain the power to legally discriminate against the LGBTI community.

All three examples given by the Australian Christian Lobby in the following article involves individuals who have allegedly either actively discriminated against a transgender person or made statements to the effect that homosexuality was heretical, blasphemous and evil.

OUT in Perth, 8 August 2019:

The head of the Human Rights Law Alliance has laid out what he expects the government will allow in its religious focused anti-discrimination legislation.

In a recent presentation in Perth for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), John Steenhof the Managing Director of the organisation, listed a range of examples where he felt people’s religious freedom had been compromised.

One of the examples Steenhof notes is the case of a pharmacists who he says ended up resigning from their job because they felt an equal opportunity commission was going to force them to fill the prescriptions of people who are transgender. 

“Just yesterday I was speaking to a pharmacist who’s quit her job because she’s been threatened with a discrimination claim for refusing a female hormones prescription at her pharmacy for a biological male.” Steenhof said. 

The Human Rights Law Alliance is a non-profit legal organisation that is closely aligned with the Australian Christian Lobby. Steenhof’s predecessor Martyn Iles is now the head of the ACL. 

In a presentation at the ACL’s ‘Not Ashamed’ state conference Steenhof said there are a number of threats to religious freedom in Australia including disciplinary boards, workplace contracts, vague code of conducts and discrimination claims.

Steenhof also cited the example of Bernard Gaynor, a conservative commentator who supports public displays of homosexuality being made illegal. Steenhof said Gaynor had been targeted through New South Wales vilification laws despite him living in Queensland, and the case of Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous.

In his presentation Steenhof said it appeared the government was not interested in bringing in a religious freedom law, something he said Christians would welcome, but could be dangerous as it may “leave the door open towards the progression of towards a bill of rights act.” 

Steenhof said while he had not seen the legislation the government was proposing he was concerned that a religious discrimination act could be problematic if it was not well worded. 

“We want robust and clear definition of religious freedom and how that translates into action that will be protected. 

We want protection for religious organisations, Christians not only individually, but in community…Christian schools, Christian charities, all of these organisation require protections.” 

“We need protections for charities that would hold to man-woman marriage, we need rights of parents – that’s a massive issue that needs to be address and projections.

We need to address the low bar on vilification laws which allows people to pursue Christians when they feel just a little bit hurt or offended.” Steenhof said. 

In July the National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) called for stakeholders to commit to a “to do no harm” pledge during the discussions regarding the introduction of a federal Religious Discrimination Act. 

They argue that evidence shows that the structural discrimination enshrined in our nation’s laws exacerbate the impacts of minority stress on LGBTI people, including increased anxiety, depression, suicidality and substance use. 

Nicky Bath, Executive Director said that calls for religious freedom should not be used a licence to discriminate against LGBTI people. 

“The Alliance recognises that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and is an essential part of a liberal, democratic society. We support measures that protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs or activity, or their secular beliefs or activity. However, legislation for religious freedom should not be used as a license to discriminate against LGBTI people.” Bath said. 

Recent research has highlighted how legislative processes and public debates relating to the rights of stigmatised, minority populations adversely effects our communities’ already poorer mental health, with an increase in psychological distress being evident among LGBTI people during the same-sex marriage postal survey. 

“We are calling upon all Members of Parliament, media, religious organisations and individuals to engage in a respectful debate and reporting around legislating for a Religious Discrimination Act to ensure that the right to practice one’s faith and the right to be free from discrimination are appropriately balanced in a coherent legal framework and do not further marginalise or harm our communities’ health and wellbeing”, Bath said. 

“We also call on the Morrison Government to consult with LGBTI people, organisations and communities to hear directly how this legislation and the ongoing public debates impact negatively on our mental and physical health.” 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia also says there is no need for pharmacists to be given an exemption from discrimination laws, and treating people equally is a big part of their code of conduct. 

“PSA recognises that equality is a health issue, and is a right for all Australians, irrespective of age, culture, religion, sexuality or gender identity.” a spokesperson told OUTinPerth. 

“This is reflected in PSA’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, which states that pharmacists have an obligation to respect the dignity and autonomy of the patient, recognise and respect patients’ diversity, cultural knowledge and skills, gender, beliefs, values, characteristics and lived experience – and not discriminate on any grounds, and provide care in a compassionate, professional, timely, and culturally safe and responsive manner.”


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The awful truth that over 8 million* Australians refuse to face


The Monthly, August 2019:

In June, I delivered a keynote presentation on Australia’s vulnerability to climate change and our policy challenges at the annual meeting of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the main conference for those working in the climate science community. I saw it as an opportunity to summarise the post-election political and scientific reality we now face.

As one of the dozen or so Australian lead authors on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report, currently underway, I have a deep appreciation of the speed and severity of climate change unfolding across the planet. Last year I was also appointed as one of the scientific advisers to the Climate Council, Australia’s leading independent body providing expert advice to the public on climate science and policy. In short, I am in the confronting position of being one of the few Australians who sees the terrifying reality of the climate crisis.

Preparing for this talk I experienced something gut-wrenching. It was the realisation that there is now nowhere to hide from the terrible truth…...

The results coming out of the climate science community at the moment are, even for experts, similarly alarming.

One common metric used to investigate the effects of global warming is known as “equilibrium climate sensitivity”, defined as the full amount of global surface warming that will eventually occur in response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations compared to pre-industrial times. It’s sometimes referred to as the holy grail of climate science because it helps quantify the specific risks posed to human society as the planet continues to warm.

We know that CO2 concentrations have risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to approximately 410 ppm today, the highest recorded in at least three million years. Without major mitigation efforts, we are likely to reach 560 ppm by around 2060.

When the IPCC’s fifth assessment report was published in 2013, it estimated that such a doubling of CO2 was likely to produce warming within the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C as the Earth reaches a new equilibrium. However, preliminary estimates calculated from the latest global climate models (being used in the current IPCC assessment, due out in 2021) are far higher than with the previous generation of models. Early reports are predicting that a doubling of CO2 may in fact produce between 2.8 and 5.8°C of warming. Incredibly, at least eight of the latest models produced by leading research centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France are showing climate sensitivity of 5°C or warmer.

When these results were first released at a climate modelling workshop in March this year, a flurry of panicked emails from my IPCC colleagues flooded my inbox. What if the models are right? Has the Earth already crossed some kind of tipping point? Are we experiencing abrupt climate change right now?

The model runs aren’t all available yet, but when many of the most advanced models in the world are independently reproducing the same disturbing results, it’s hard not to worry.
When the UN’s Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015, it defined a specific goal: to keep global warming to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (defined as the climate conditions experienced during the 1850–1900 period). While admirable in intent, the agreement did not impose legally binding limits on signatory nations and contained no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, each country committed to publicly disclosed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce emissions. In essence, it is up to each nation to act in the public interest.

Even achieving the most ambitious goal of 1.5°C will see the further destruction of between 70 and 90 per cent of reef-building corals compared to today, according to the IPCC’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C”, released last October. With 2°C of warming, a staggering 99 per cent of tropical coral reefs disappear. An entire component of the Earth’s biosphere – our planetary life support system – would be eliminated. The knock-on effects on the 25 per cent of all marine life that depends on coral reefs would be profound and immeasurable.

So how is the Paris Agreement actually panning out?

In 2017, we reached 1°C of warming above global pre-industrial conditions. According to the UN Environment Programme’s “Emissions Gap Report”, released in November 2018, current unconditional NDCs will see global average temperature rise by 2.9 to 3.4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.

To restrict warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to triple its current emission reduction pledges. If that’s not bad enough, to restrict global warming to 1.5°C, global ambition needs to increase fivefold.

Meanwhile, the Australian federal government has a target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which experts believe is more aligned with global warming of 3 to 4°C. Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that we will meet our Paris Agreement commitments “in a canter”, the UNEP report clearly identifies Australia as one of the G20 nations that will fall short of achieving its already inadequate NDCs by 2030.

Even with the 1°C of warming we’ve already experienced, 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead. We are witnessing catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the largest living organism on the planet. As I share this horrifying information with audiences around the country, I often pause to allow people to try and really take that information in.

Increasingly after my speaking events, I catch myself unexpectedly weeping in my hotel room or on flights home. Every now and then, the reality of what the science is saying manages to thaw the emotionally frozen part of myself I need to maintain to do my job. In those moments, what surfaces is pure grief. It’s the only feeling that comes close to the pain I felt processing the severity of my dad’s brain injury. Being willing to acknowledge the arrival of the point of no return is an act of bravery.

But these days my grief is rapidly being superseded by rage. Volcanically explosive rage. Because in the very same IPCC report that outlines the details of the impending apocalypse, the climate science community clearly stated that limiting warming to 1.5°C is geophysically possible.

Past emissions alone are unlikely to raise global average temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report states that any further warming beyond the 1°C already recorded would likely be less than 0.5°C over the next 20 to 30 years, if all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions were reduced to zero immediately. That is, if we act urgently, it is technically feasible to turn things around. The only thing missing is strong global policy.
Although the very foundation of human civilisation is at stake, the world is on track to seriously overshoot our UN targets. Worse still, global carbon emissions are still rising. In response, scientists are prioritising research on how the planet has responded during other warm periods in the Earth’s history.

The most comprehensive summary of conditions experienced during past warm periods in the Earth’s recent history was published in June 2018 in one of our leading journals, Nature Geoscience, by 59 leading experts from 17 countries. The report concluded that warming of between 1.5 and 2°C in the past was enough to see significant shifts in climate zones, and land and aquatic ecosystems “spatially reorganize”.

These changes triggered substantial long-term melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, unleashing 6 to 13 metres of global sea-level rise lasting thousands of years.

Examining the Earth’s climatic past tells us that even between 1.5 and 2°C of warming sees the world reconfigure in ways that people don’t yet appreciate. All bets are off between 3 and 4°C, where we are currently headed. Parts of Australia will become uninhabitable, as other areas of our country become increasingly ravaged by extreme weather events.

This year the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s annual conference was held in Darwin, where the infamous Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Day in 1974, virtually demolishing the entire city. More than 70 per cent of the city’s buildings, including 80 per cent of its houses, were destroyed. Seventy-one people were killed and most of the 48,000 residents made homeless. Conditions were so dire that around 36,000 people were evacuated, many by military aircraft. It was a disaster of monumental proportions.

As I collated this information for my presentation, it became clear to me that Cyclone Tracy is a warning. Without major action, we will see tropical cyclones drifting into areas on the southern edge of current cyclone zones, into places such as south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where infrastructure is not ready to cope with cyclonic conditions.

These areas currently house more than 3.6 million people; we simply aren’t prepared for what is upon us.....

Notes:

* the over "8 million Australians" are the 8,018,310 voters who did not give their first preference vote at the May 2019 federal election to a political party with a solid climate change policy.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Maclean High School finalists in Narragunnawali Awards 2019


Maclean High School News, 8 July 2019:


The Narragunnawali Awards, sponsored by the BHP Foundation, celebrate schools and early learning services that are striving for a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. 

Reconciliation Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine says all the finalists have enthusiastically embraced reconciliation. 

“We were so impressed by the calibre and creativity of the nominees this year, and particularly of the finalists. Teachers and students alike have been working in partnership with Elders, Traditional Owners and community members to ensure teaching and learning is relevant to their local community context. They have been actively engaging with the true histories of the Country on which their school respectively stands, and exploring themes of racism, holistic approaches to wellbeing, land management practices and sustainability” Ms Mundine said 

“The important work that these children, students, teachers and broader communities are doing, is part of a broader movement of Australians learning, unlearning and relearning our shared histories in schools and early learning services around the country,” Ms Mundine concluded. 

The Judging Panel will be visiting each of the finalists in the coming months to determine the winners. The winners of the Narragunnawali Awards will be announced at a special Awards ceremony in Canberra which will be live-streamed on Thursday 14 November 2019.

'We told you so!' echoes around social media as Australian police found to have exceeded lawful authority in accessing citizens' metadata


Recalling the many social media voices which expressed concern when legislation was before the Australian Parliament, none of this comes as any surprise......

The Guardian, 23 July 2019:

In addition to one instance of the Australian federal police accessing a journalist’s data without a warrant reported in 2017, the ombudsman discovered two instances where the WA police applied for – and obtained – a journalist information warrant from a person not authorised to provide it. 

“This occurred due to a lack of awareness by WA police regarding to whom an application for a journalist information warrant could be made,” the report said. “In response to this issue, WA police took steps to quarantine all information obtained under the invalid warrants.” 

The Guardian, 24 July 2019:

The home affairs minister Peter Dutton has claimed “there are consequences” for unlawful metadata searches but conceded he doesn’t know if any action has been taken after revelations of widespread breaches by law enforcement agencies. 

On Wednesday the ACT’s chief police officer, Ray Johnson, brushed off the fact his officers accessed metadata at least 116 times without proper authorisation in 2015, labelling it an “administrative oversight”. 

The revelations were contained in a commonwealth ombudsman’s report which also found Western Australian police twice obtained invalid warrants targeting journalists’ data and the department of immigration received data outside the authority’s parameters in 42 cases. 

Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said the report shows metadata powers “have been abused to allow illegal searches and to target journalists”. 

ZDnet, 25 July 2019:

The Commonwealth Ombudsman report [PDF] into how 20 agencies across federal and state levels government agencies across Australia handle stored communications and metadata over the period of the 2016-17 financial year has been released, with Home Affairs being the only agency that was handed recommendations. 

Home Affairs was called upon to ensure it could "accurately account for the number of telecommunications data authorisations it issues in any given period" to comply with its record keeping obligations, and have a central system to store or monitor telecommunications data once it had been handed to investigators. 

The recommendations were a result of the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) having 8 record keeping issues identified, as well as a statistical issue, and 42 instances of telecommunications data being accessed outside the parameters of authority. The Ombudsman explained that 41 of those instances were due to an automatic input from DIBP's database which has since been resolved. 

Also falling under the Home Affairs banner following its transferral into the Peter Dutton-helmed superministry is the Australian Federal Police, which disclosed that between October 13 to 26, 2015, all authorisations by ACT Police were not authorised, due to the AFP Commissioner failing to authorise any ACT officers for that period. 

The Guardian, 26 July 2019:

ACT Policing has admitted it unlawfully accessed citizens’ metadata a total of 3,365 times, not 116 as previously disclosed in an explosive commonwealth ombudsman’s report on Monday. 

The new disclosures include a total of 240 cases that resulted in information valuable to criminal investigations and two that “may have been used in a prosecution”. 


In a statement on Friday, ACT Policing revealed the 116 unlawful metadata requests detailed in the report tabled in parliament on Monday are the tip of the iceberg, with a further 3,249 requests made from 11 March to 13 October 2015 under an invalid authorisation. 


The revelation comes as Western Australia’s top cop has said there have been no consequences for police who unlawfully accessed a journalist’s metadata,

contradicting Peter Dutton’s suggestion they might be penalised. 

Police made illegal metadata searches and obtained invalid warrants targeting journalists Read more In the statement ACT Policing revealed it is still seeking legal advice about how to deal with two cases where invalidly obtained metadata was used in “a missing persons case and a criminal matter where the data in question may have been used in a prosecution”. 


“It is not appropriate to identify particular cases,” it said.






 See remainder of statement and full article here.


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

One of the reasons regional living is so good is the size and strength of community spirit


The Clarence Independent, 25 July 2019:



Iluka Bowls Club’s president, Ray Flaherty (4th form right, front), Ann and John McLean (centre with white t-shirts), pictured with bowls club directors and members. Image: Contributed

Iluka Bowls Club has offered to provide land for the proposed ambulance station in Iluka. 

Estimated to come with a $10million price tag, the NSW Government is currently working on “detailed service planning” and “site acquisitions studies” for the proposed station, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said after the NSW budget was released in June. 

The bowls club’s general manager, Nicola Donsworth, said the land is located next to the netball court on the corner of Denne and Spenser streets. 

“It would be a perfect central location, with two street accesses, next to the helicopter landing area on the sports oval and next to the skate park and, and as we know, the majority of our town’s population is ageing. 

“It may be necessary to rezone the land but it might be an offer that the council and state government might find difficult to refuse. 

“We are hoping that if this offer is viable it may speed up the process and get this ambulance station established.” Ms Donsworth said the club’s board is in favour of the idea, subject to the club members’ approval. 

Ambulance Action Group spearheads, Ann and John McLean, welcomed the offer.

“The need for an ambulance station in Iluka has become more important than ever,” Ms McLean said. “Response times are getting longer. 

“There have been many incidents where paramedics have been sent from Grafton and Evans Head, due to there not being an ambulance available in Yamba or Maclean.  
“This is often caused because the paramedics are being utilised to transport patients from Maclean to Lismore or the Gold Coast.....

The budget papers list the ambulance station as commencing “prior to March 2023”.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Australian Politics in 2019: the betrayal


Echo NetDaily, 15 July 2019:

Thus Spake Mungo: The betrayal

Scott Morrison really likes quiet Australians – as quiet as possible. So it was really no surprise that his response to his minister, Ken Wyatt’s modest and tentative proposal to consider reviving an Indigenous Voice through the Uluru Statement from the Heart was simple and direct: bloody well shut up and do what you are told.

We will decide who speaks for Indigenous Australia and the circumstances in which they speak, and by we, I mean me, and Eric Abetz and Peter Dutton and the Institute of Public Affairs and Andrew Bolt – not Indigenous Australians. They can do what they are told.

So the glimmer of hope last week was extinguished as soon as it began. Wyatt knew it probably would be – when he delicately referred to ‘reticence’ within his party room, he was prepared for a backlash, but maybe not one as cynical, hypocritical and downright vicious as the one that transpired.

In nanoseconds the same old lies were trotted out, most outrageously the one about the Voice being a third chamber of parliament. If the deliberately ignorant ever thought that was the case, they have certainly been informed by now that it never was and never is – the proposal is for a Voice, an advisory body with no power to legislate or veto whatever the parliament decides.

This must have been clear even to Dutton. But this did not stop him repeating the fabrication on national television. What he actually means, of course, is that the truth is irrelevant – what matters is that it can be turned into a massive scare campaign to deceive the gullible in much the same way the coalition devised the invention of Labor’s death taxes, which worked on May 18.

And if that involves rejecting, traducing and misrepresenting the long and tortuous process that led to Uluru, well they can just suck it up. Everyone knows there are no votes in Aborigines.

So Wyatt meekly surrendered to the inevitable and will now go back to what he called pragmatism, negotiation, compromise – we must have consensus before we even think about going to a referendum, otherwise there is a risk of it failing.

And indeed there is, but only because of the intransigence of the reactionary rump that now holds sway over his government. The deep strain of latent racism that prevails throughout the joint party room and its acolytes is not confined to the fringes of the National Party – it has infected Liberals as well, some of whom call themselves the protectors of mainstream Australia.

They are worried about what they regard as causing divisions – offering rights and privileges to one group to disadvantage the rest. This is precisely what they demand for the religious zealots, but no matter. As they well know, there are no votes in Aborigines. And there is a sneaking suspicion that their predicament, while deplorable, is somehow their own fault – if they could just forget the past and get on with it, the incarcerations, the mortality rates, the unemployment, the homeless, the poverty and despair would simply disappear.

So we have the always predictable Craig Kelly say he did not want to spend money on a referendum – he would rather spend it on closing the gap (actually he would rather spend it on a coal fired power station, but let that pass). Barnaby Joyce says the solution is to break up the senate to bring in more rural members. Amanda Stoker, apparently attempting to remake herself into a transgender Peter Dutton, is against anything even vaguely progressive on principle.

And she is not the only one – come in Morgan Begg, of IPA, which by no coincidence is secretly funded by a large chunk of the mining industry, a traditional enemy of Indigenous rights. Begg sprang into the pages of The Australian (where else?) to claim that a Voice would violate all principles of racial equality. And he went back to the hugely successful 1967 referendum to boost his thesis: by agreeing to count Aborigines in the national census, Australians voted to remove race from the constitution.

But that was only part of that they voted for. They also voted to give the Commonwealth Parliament the right – even the duty – to legislate specifically for Aborigines, a considerably more substantial outcome. This was the power John Howard used in 2006 to bring in his military intervention of allegations of child abuse. There is no record of Begg inveighing against such blatant racism division, illiberalism.

And his hypocrisy is echoed by many conservatives, including Morrison, who is determined to avoid embedding any suggestion of a Voice in the constitution – the key, the non-negotiable plank in the Uluru Statement. Morrison says that if there is to be a Voice – and mind you, he is not saying there will be – an advisory body established by parliament will be quite sufficient.

But this misses the point: not only would such a body be vulnerable to political interference, in the same way Howard abolished the former Australian and Torres Strait Islander Commission in 2004, but the whole idea is that the Voice should be endorsed by the Australian people, not just by the politicians of the time.

This after all, was the argument of the conservatives over same sex marriage – the change was so important it had to go to a plebiscite. But obviously reconciliation with Indigenous Australians can be regarded as relatively trivial – there are no votes in Aborigines.

In the end, Morrison and Wyatt will probably be able to cobble together some anodyne words, some impotent tokenism he can take to a referendum

In the end, Morrison and Wyatt will probably be able to cobble together some anodyne words, some impotent tokenism he can take to a referendum which may or may not pass, and who cares anyway. But it will be a travesty of Uluru, a betrayal of the painstaking months of good faith the delegates invested in the hope that this time, at last, someone would listen.

Wyatt has been lauded as the first of his race to join cabinet as the first Minister for Indigenous Australia – Morgan Begg and Andrew Bolt would no doubt call this divisive in itself. But the task was too much for him or probably anyone else. Ken Wyatt could have been a hero – not only an Indigenous hero, but a hero for all Australians of goodwill, the majority who are willing to support the long march to real reconciliation. Instead, he has become just another casualty, yet another victim of the casual racism and cruelty of the right wing rump……

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

State of Play 2019: the Australian workplace


Financial Review, 17 July 2019:

The head of a large mortgage brokering company is facing court for allegedly paying his Filipino nanny just $2 an hour for working more than 100 hours a week.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has accused Tony Lam, managing director of Award Mortage Solutions, of underpaying the worker $155,178 for 12 months of domestic and caring work at his luxury penthouse apartment in Sydney.



The Federal Court action is set to be a significant test of whether nannies and domestic workers are covered by modern awards, which include overtime and penalty rates for morning, evening and weekend work.

The "scale of the alleged underpayments and the unreasonable work hours are concerning", said ombudsman Sandra Parker.


We allege the worker in this case was vulnerable to exploitation given she was new to Australia, resided with Mr Lam and his family and did not know what her workplace rights were," she said......


ABC News, 18 July 2019:

An Adelaide construction site supervisor who doused an apprentice in flammable liquid and set his clothes on fire has pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act.


Key points:
Tad-Mar Electrical supervisors Luke Daniel Chenoweth and Jeffrey Mark Rowe are being prosecuted by SafeWork SA
The tribunal was told the victim could have suffered second-degree burns
Chenoweth will be sentenced at a later date, Rowe was fined $12,000
Tad-Mar Electrical employee Luke Daniel Chenoweth and fellow supervisor Jeffrey Mark Rowe were prosecuted by SafeWork SA over the incident at a worksite in Woodville in April 2017.

Prosecutor Laura Willows told the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) that Chenoweth squirted flammable liquid onto the boot of a 19-year-old apprentice — who the ABC has chosen not to name.

"He let the flames on his boot go out and he didn't say anything, he just wanted to get away from Chenoweth," she said.


"Chenoweth followed him and squirted some more liquid onto the crotch area of the complainant.


"It was at this point the complainant became particularly scared … so he ran away."


However, Ms Willows said the two supervisors followed the apprentice and both squirted more lighter fluid on the young worker's shirt and ignited it.


"[The apprentice] felt intense heat instantly and he was pulling his shirt away from his skin and waving his arms to try and put the flames out," she said.

"He could smell burnt hair and he was worried he had been seriously burnt."


'The apprentice could have suffered second-degree burns'


The court heard the apprentice would have suffered second-degree burns if his shirt was left on his body for another 20 seconds.


Ms Willows told the court the apprentice was subjected to ongoing bullying in the lead-up to the incident.


She said the apprentice had previously been tied to a ladder with duct tape, had his arms and face covered with silicon and permanent marker and had been locked in a shipping container.


The court heard Chenoweth had also failed to ensure that the apprentice received medical assessment for an electric shock and subjected him to frequent verbal abuse.


"The defendant was in a position of authority on the building site being supervisor and the victim was an apprentice," Ms Willows said.....



George Colombaris
Photograph, The Age, 18 July 2019
Australian Government Fairwork Ombudsman's Court-Enforceable Undertaking with the MADE Establishment Pty Ltd group of companies, excerpt from public apology template, July 2019:

In early 2017, following a change in ownership and management, MAdE Establishment conducted a review of its records and identified circumstances where it had failed to correctly pay many of its employees. MAdE Establishment self-reported this to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) which subsequently commenced an investigation into Jimmy Grants and the MAdE Establishment group of companies, being the Hellenic Republic, Press Club and Gazi restaurants.

Since first identifying the underpayment issues, the MAdE Establishment group has back-paid 515 current or former employees $7.83m.This amount comprised underpayments for the admitted contraventions listed below. In some cases, workers were incorrectly classified. Record-keeping laws relating to time records for some annualised salary employees were not adhered to, contributing to underpayments.

The FWO also found underpayments of about $16,000 for 9 employees at two Jimmy Grants stores. Jimmy Grants (Emporium) and Jimmy Grants (Fitzroy) incorrectly classified some workers and for some employees the wrong award was applied, resulting in underpayments of base rates for ordinary hours and a range of penalty rates......

George Calombaris, founding shareholder (shareholder 2008-current, director 2008-2018)

Radek Sali, Director of MAdE Establishment (director 20 December, 2016-current, shareholder 20 December, 2016 - current)

Adam Gregory, Director of MAdE Establishment (director 26 April, 2017-current, shareholder 28 August, 2017 -current)