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

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Australian Home Affairs Minister calls for welfare payments to be stopped for climate change protesters


The six-person protest in Creek Street, Brisbane
Image: Daily Mail
According to an interview with 2GB radio shock jock Ray Hadley, Australian Minister for Home Affairs & Liberal MP for Dickson Peter Dutton is not happy with six climate change protesters belonging to Extinction Rebellion blocking Creek Street, Brisbane, for one hour and forty minutes on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

He also took exception to the fact that the magistrate they appeared before did not record convictions after all six entered guilty pleas.

Of course in the end Dutton sheeted home the blame for this incident to Queensland Labor governments appointing magistrates who were too tolerant of civil disobedience – just as he did in 2016 after Magistrate Trevor Morgan said he would probably be proud if it were his daughter taking part in protest action.

It seems Dutton hasn’t forgotten those protesters who climbed on his electoral office roof in 2016.

The New Daily, 3 October 2019: 

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has called for climate change protesters to be “named and shamed”, jailed and have their welfare payments stopped. 

Warning protesters in Queensland are “putting lives at risk”, Mr Dutton said the fines are not good enough after the activist group Extinction Rebellion caused traffic chaos in Brisbane. 

“The community expectation is that these people are fined or jailed and they should be jailed until their behaviour changes because they are putting lives at risks. They are diverting police and emergency service resources from tasks they should be undertaking otherwise,” Mr Dutton said. 

Speaking on radio 2GB, Mr Dutton was then asked by host Ray Hadley if the protesters should have their welfare payments stopped because they are “bludgers sticking themselves to roads”. 

“Well, I agree, Ray,” he said….. 

Mr Dutton urged people to surveil the protesters and distribute their images. 

“People should take these names and the photos of these people and distribute them as far and wide as they can, so that we shame these people,” Mr Dutton said. 

“They are acting outside of the law. Let their families know what you think of their behaviour.” 

“They keep turning up week after week because a slap on the wrist is just not working.” 

Mr Dutton also called for mandatory sentencing of protesters disrupting traffic and shutting down cities….. 

“But you know raiding farms, climbing on to the roof of my electoral office and then get told by the magistrate he would be proud of her if it his daughter had done it.

The Saturday Paper, 4 October 2019:

A number of Liberal National Party MPs have supported Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s call to strip welfare payments from climate protesters and jail them. Employment Minister Michaelia Cash told The Australian ($): “Taxpayers should not be ­expected to subsidise the protests of others.” Other supporters include ($) Scott Buchholz, the assistant minister for road safety. Their backing comes after Dutton agreed with the 2GB radio host Ray Hadley that welfare payments of climate protesters should be cut and added: “they should be jailed until their behaviour changes”.  The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, told the ABC that Dutton was starting to “sound more like a dictator than he is an elected politician. Because somebody says something that he doesn’t like, that he doesn’t support, he’s saying we’re going to strip away income support.” Some activists have taken leave from their jobs to protest against government inaction on climate change. The Morrison government is also seeking to require Newstart recipients who fail drug tests to use cashless welfare cards.

Friday, 4 October 2019

The Ugly Face of Climate Change Denialism on NSW North Coast: "your world's future is in the hands of God, not in the predictions of a little girl and false prophets"


Coffs Harbour Christian Community School, newsletter, 26 September 2019, p.1:


The Daily Examiner, 3 October 2019, p.1:

The Dean of Grafton’s Christ Church Cathedral has spoken out against a Coffs Harbour school principal who used a school newsletter to slam students for their recent climate strike.
In a column released last Thursday, Coffs Harbour Christian Community School principal Rodney Lynn dismissed the climate change protest as “doomsday waffle talk” and took aim at the face of the global climate strike, Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
In response, Christ Church Cathedral’s Very Reverend Gregory Jenks said the piece was typical of the agenda of conservative right-wing Christians, and said it was inappropriate commentary from someone involved in the education system.....
Rev Jenks said he believed the views of Mr Lynn were not good for the planet and not good for children.
“I think it betrays a stunning ignorance of thinking on climate science, and (Mr Lynn) is not in the same league to be up against thousands of climate scientists,” Rev Jenks said.....
Rev Jenks, who is an adjunct senior lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University, said Mr Lynn’s use of scripture was “incredibly naive and fundamentalist”.
“What’s sad is this isn’t a personal agenda, this is typical of the agenda of conservative right-wing Christians articulating a ultra-conservative expression of Christianity and it’s nasty,” he said.
ABC News, 1 October 2019:
Trevor Crawford has two children at the school and said he was "absolutely disgusted" when he read the column in the school newsletter.

He said the column was "over the top", especially Mr Lynn's indirect comments about Ms Thunberg.

"To turn around and use her condition of Asperger's as a mental problem and that must be a reason why she shouldn't be believed, it's wrong," he said.

An estimated 6 million marchers participated in the global climate strikes, led by Ms Thunberg, on September 20 and 27 this year.

Liisa Rusanen from the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group also criticised Mr Lynn, saying "everything Greta Thunberg says is thoroughly backed by science".

"I'm surprised that a school principal doesn't recognise that.".....

The newsletter was published a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned against causing children "needless anxiety" about climate change.

In 2004, Mr Lynn apologised after distributing leaflets describing state schools as "seed plots of future immorality, infidelity and lawlessness".

The school's chairman declined to comment, and Mr Lynn has been contacted for comment.

Daily Mail, headline, 1 October 2019:

White, middle-aged Christian private school principal slams climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, 16, as a 'little girl with mental problems' - and urges students not to believe her 'doomsday waffle talk'

BACKGROUND

Coffs Harbour City Council holds its next ordinary monthly meeting on 10 October 2019. Media reports this week suggest that councillors may be considering declaring a climate emergency, thereby joining 55 other Australian local governments who have declared to date. These include Clarence Valley, Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed councils in the Norther Rivers region.

Students and supporters in the Coffs Habour area participated in the 20 September 2019 global School Strike 4 Climate. Coffs Harbour students also participated in two other school strike protests in 2018 & early 2019.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Up to 29 September 2019 the Australian media have reported 44 women died by violence so far this year


Forty-four women were murdered in this country in just 272 days - that's the equivalent of one death every 6 days.


https://twitter.com/JointDestroyer/status/1178133707225387008

With rare exceptions women who die violently are usually killed by male acquaintances, partners, husbands or other male family members.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Tweet of the Week



Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Meet the Indue Class Warfare Card


Think the Australian Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is not seriously considering a national roll-out of the Indue Cashless Debit Card?

Do you think that living many hundreds of kilometres in any direction from current debit card trial sites proves that that the Liberal Party's head hater of the poor and vulnerable is not yet planning to specifically target you and your family?

Recently noticed that your bank's ATM now has a function icon which allows the limited use of these particular debit cards in order to facilitate a person's ability to access the paltry 20 per cent of a welfare payment which can be paid out in cash under this punitive income management scheme?



Monday, 23 September 2019

20 September 2019 Student Strike 4 Climate in the NSW Northern Rivers


On 20 September 2019 at gatherings large and small across Australia during the Global Climate Strike  in excess of an estimated 300,000 people met to protest government and industry inaction in the face of global climate change.

Approximately 268,500 of these people participated in all eight capital cities.
Protests were reportedly also held at another 104 cities, towns and villages.

Echo NetDaily estimates close to 6,000 students and supporters participated in Byron Bay, 3,400 in Lismore and 1,580 in Pottsville.

In Grafton 200 people listened to stern words directed at prime minister and parliament.......

The Daily Examiner, 21 September 2019, p.3:

With more than 200 people marching down Prince St, it would be hard to deny something is building.
Supported by a sizeable contingent of adults, students in the School Strike 4 Climate marched through the Grafton CBD to protest inaction on climate change.
In a rousing speech in Market Square, strike leader and Year 12 student Shiann Broderick called out Prime Minister Scott Morrison and said a select few were benefiting from coal projects that were “sacrificing our future”.
Ms Broderick sent a clear message students would not be backing down after Mr Morrison and others in the community had earlier criticised the strikes. “We will not restrict our activism to out-of-school hours because this is the only way to make you listen,” she said.
“You are unhappy that we are not at school but I would be at school today if I didn’t have to teach you how to do your job.
“You say you don’t support schools being turned into parliaments but I think we should turn the parliament into a school since you so obviously need educating.”
With the crowd buzzing, Grafton High student Oskar Robertson said he was “sick and tired” of not having a say in decisions affecting his future and was “tired of old men in suits deciding on things that won’t even affect them”.
He too urged the crowd to keep up the fight against those who continued to “pass up our future for money”.
“If they don’t heed our demands and pass us off as some dumb kids trying to get off school for the day, we will shout so loud we will rock Parliament House to its foundations,” he said.
“We don’t want dirty coal and gas, we want clean energy that won’t poison our lungs and the lungs of the earth, that won’t send us hurtling towards an extinction event.”.......

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Are some homeless people being denied access to affordable housing in Australia also?


It would be foolish in today's political environment - and with society seemingly drifting mindlessly further to the right each decade - to reject the propostion outright that this would not be occurring somewhere in Australia today.......

The Guardian, 17 September 2019:


Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread, as housing associations and local authorities increasingly ration their shrinking stocks of social homes.
In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, because of the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or because the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.
Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment”, the CIH said.
Homeless people were at risk of being caught in a “catch-22 scenario”, the CIH said, with some landlords’ letting practices creating a “perverse situation where the reasons why people may need access to social homes the most can often become barriers to accessing them”.
Some housing associations demanded that prospective tenants who would be moving on to universal credit pay a month’s rent up front, an impossible requirement for many homeless people. Landlords have been badly hit by rent arrears caused by tenants’ five-week wait for a first universal credit payment.
Faye Greaves, the CIH policy and practice officer, who wrote the report, said: “For decades, we have failed to build enough homes, and our welfare safety net is no longer fit for purpose. More and more people are turning to local authorities and housing associations for help to access social housing.
“But that leaves housing providers having to find a balance between people in acute need, local priorities and their need to develop sustainable tenancies. What we found is that relying solely on processes can end up having the opposite effect to that intended.”
It called on ministers to launch a major social housing building programme and scrap right to buy. There has been a net loss of 165,000 social homes in England since 2012, the CIH estimates. It adds that 90,000 of the 340,000 new homes needed every year should be set at social rent. In 2017-18 only 6,434 homes were built for social rent.
The findings will concern critics who believe some housing associations are becoming increasingly estranged from their charitable mission to house homeless people. Many were set up in the late 1960s on a wave of public outrage over growing homelessness typified by the famous BBC drama Cathy Come Home.
Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, called for proper scrutiny of social landlords’ letting practices: “Having a safe and stable home is a human need, and this report paints a sorry picture of the difficulties that people who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, face in accessing this basic right.”
Pre-tenancy screening is causing tension between housing associations, which want to minimise the damage to their balance sheet of taking on tenants at risk of rent arrears, and councils, which want to exercise their right to nominate social tenancies to reduce growing numbers of homeless people on their books.
The research did not ask what happens to homeless people who are refused social tenancies but the assumption is that most will continue to be housed in high-cost and often unsuitable temporary accommodation in the private sector. Local authorities in England spend nearly £1bn a year on temporary accommodation.
In recent years cuts to government grant funding have meant housing associations have adopted more commercial, profit-orientated approaches, resulting in some being accused of concentrating on building homes for private sale and “affordable rent” at the expense of the people they were set up to help.
The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said its members were committed to providing homes for those most in need and on the lowest incomes but action was needed to reverse the “dire shortage of social rented housing caused by decades of underinvestment”.
David Bogle of Homes for Cathy, a group of housing associations dedicated to restoring the sector’s commitment to ending homelessness, welcomed the report. “Housing associations and local authorities need to be given additional support to develop new social homes and to allocate those homes to those who are homeless and in greatest need.”......

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Quote of the Week


"...now, as in the past, they [religious leaders] assume the right to impose their faith on others. Far from being denied a "voice" in the public square, they have a megaphone. What irks them is that fewer of us are listening." [Freelance journalist Julie Szego, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2019]

Monday, 26 August 2019

Morrison Government's understanding of human rights and aged care appears flawed


"Restrictive practices can elicit concern for a number of reasons. Fundamentally, they impact on the liberty and dignity of the care recipient. In circumstances where they are not absolutely necessary, their use is likely to sit uncomfortably for many. Their use without lawful consent may infringe the resident’s legal rights and constitute a civil or criminal offence, such as assault or false imprisonment, although there are very few cases in Australia where a criminal or civil complaint has been pursued to challenge the use of a restraint in an aged care setting. Physical and chemical restraint can have significant adverse effects on a resident, both physically and psychologically. There are also fundamental questions about their effectiveness."  [Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Background Paper 4, May 2019]

9 News, 20 August 2019: 

The Commonwealth government recently introduced changes aimed at limiting the use of restraints in residential facilities. 

But experts believe the regulations have created many more problems than they solved. 

They are urging the Commonwealth to scrap the regulations and start again from scratch. 

Queensland's public guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown said the changes placed her agency and the community in a "really compromising" position. 

"Unfortunately in their current form, the principles actually regress the recognition of human rights of people living in aged care, particularly with respect to chemical restraints," she told the committee in Sydney on Tuesday. 

"But the entire suite itself lacks any monitoring, enforcement or oversight in any event, and this can lead to greater problems." 

Colleen Pearce, from the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate, said aspects of the regulations were flawed and ambiguous. 

"We consider the principles are inconsistent with people's human rights (and) would preferably be contained in legislation," 

Dr Pearce told the committee. "(The principles) introduce, in the case of physical restraints, a new flawed and ambiguous substitute decision-making regime, provide virtually no regulation of chemical restraint usage, and lack the safeguards of other restrictive practices regulatory schemes." 

Joseph Ibrahim, the head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Melbourne's Monash University, described the regulations as stupid. 

"There is no monitoring mechanism, there are no sanctions associated, there is no way of implementing or making sure the law comes into effect," Professor Ibrahim said. 

A group of advocates believe the government should be prohibiting the misuse of restraints and over-medication, rather than regulating them. 

They argue medication should only be used for therapeutic practices and be administered with a patient's free and informed consent. 

The group includes Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA) and Human Rights Watch, both of which addressed the hearing on Tuesday. 

"Older people in nursing homes are at serious risk of harm if this new aged care regulation is allowed to stand as is," ADA chief executive Geoff Rowe said. 

"Australia's parliament should act urgently to ensure that everyone, including older people, is free from the threat of chemical restraint.".....

The Canberra Times, 21 August 2019:

New rules on the use of restraints in aged care could lead to more elderly residents being sedated, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. 

The regulation is also unenforceable, and does nothing to relief the staffing pressures that have led to the use of restraints, expert witnesses have said..... 

Professor Joe Ibrahim from Monash University's Health Law and Ageing Research Unit said the regulation also did not recognise the pressures within aged care that forced staff to use restraints. 

"Staff restrain residents to get through their day because they don't have enough hands to get through what's needed or they don't have the skills, knowledge, ability to assess why a person has responsive behaviours or unmet needs to address that," Professor Ibrahim said. 

"A law that isn't monitored, has no sanctions, no way of checking, it will drive practice underground." 

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union professional officer Jamie Shepherd said he knew of a case where one registered nurse had to administer medication to 166 residents on night shift, and management resisted rostering on an enrolled nurse to help until the RN threatened to call an ambulance each night to assist. 

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal professional officer Julie Reeves said through a recent member survey, she learnt of an aged care home where there were just six staff rostered on overnight to look after 420 residents. 

"We cannot always effectively manage challenging behaviour issues for dementia residents while at the same time caring for others who have very complex health issues. 

We receive little to no support from management when things don't go as planned," she quoted the member as saying. 

Australian Human Rights Commission president, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher said while parts of the regulation had merit, it should not be allowed to proceed unless there was a mechanism for independent oversight. "If it's a choice of it or nothing, nothing might be better than it as it is," Professor Croucher said....

Physical restraining devices currently allowed in Commonwealth-funded aged care facilities are:

Bed rails
Chairs with locked tables
Seat belts other than those used during active transport
Safety vests
Shackles
Manacles
[my yellow highlighting]


Chemical restraint is any medication or chemical substance used for the purpose of affecting a person's behaviour, other than medication prescribed for the treatment of, or to enable treatment of, a diagnosed mental disorder, a physical illness or a physical condition. 

Use of chemical restraint is specifically excluded from assessment in the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program. [See p.15]


BACKGROUND:

 Quality of Care Amendment (Minimising the Use of Restraints) Principles 2019

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.