Australia tortures refugees.
Unaccountable, protected Minister for Death camps and refoulement pretends exile is "resettlement"
Media Release [31/3/15]:
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and the new Operation Sovereign Borders Commander Major General Andrew Bottrell today held talks with the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Hon Rimbink Pato MP regarding the PNG Regional Resettlement Arrangement.
The meeting follows an inspection of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (RPC) by Mr Dutton and MAJGEN Bottrell yesterday.
Mr Dutton said the Australian Government and the Government of PNG have today restated their commitment to the PNG Regional Resettlement Arrangement.
“I am grateful to the PNG Government for their cooperation in this regional solution, which has so far seen 11 refugees transferred from the RPC to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre on Manus Island,” Mr Dutton said.
“My Department has worked closely with the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority (PNGICSA) to assist them to establish a robust refugee determination process.”
Refugee determinations are undertaken under PNG domestic law and are administered and managed by PNGICSA.
While the Government of PNG is responsible for managing the transit centre, Australia continues to provide support and assistance.
“The PNG Government is continuing its processing of protection claims and I anticipate more refugees will move to the transit centre in the coming weeks,” Mr Dutton said.
#LoveMakesAWay Holy Saturday Vigil outside Prime Minister's office.
Let's protest them all. Especially Shorten.
I'm still here!: Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia
Jakarta Globe [31/3/15]:
Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson said on Tuesday that the Australian government never suggested its citizens should boycott Indonesia.
“There was never any tourism boycott from the Australian government. Australians can go wherever they wish to go,” Grigson said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned Jakarta in February that her fellow citizens could boycott Indonesia, including Bali, which is a popular holiday spot for travelers, to show their disapproval over the imminent execution of two Australians in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s unwavering commitment to press on with the execution of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, who are among a group of 10 drug convicts next in line to face the firing squad, has ignited a wave of indignation from the Australian public and its politicians.
Joko rejected Chan and Sukumaran’s clemency pleas in January.
The case of the two Australian men threatens to strain already fragile relations between Australia and Indonesia.
The two were identified as leaders of the so-called Bali Nine, a group of nine arrested on the resort island in 2005 and convicted of attempting to smuggle some 8 kilograms of heroin to Australia. Other members of the group have been sentenced to long prison terms.
Indonesia blocks Islamic sites for "promoting radicalism" [Jakarta Post - 31/3/15]:
The chief editors of seven blocked sites deemed to have promoted radicalism protested the blockage of their sites by the Communications and Information Ministry, saying that their sites have nothing to do radicalism.
On Tuesday, the chief editors sent a letter to the ministry asking them to remove the bans.
"With this, we as representatives of the blocked sites, file a protest against the blockage of our sites because our sites do not contain negative content as stipulated by Ministerial Regulation No.19/2014," aqlislamiccenter.com chief editor Agus Soelarto said during a meeting with ministry officials on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday.
The ministry instructed Internet service providers (ISP) on Monday to block19 sites after receiving a request from the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT)."The BNPT sent the request on March 24, then we processed it and deemed the request to be positive," ministry spokesperson Ismail Cawidu said on Tuesday.
There were 26 sites requested to be blocked by the BNPT, but two of them were found to be duplicates."Moreover, four of them were already inactive, while another one had already been blocked [when the BNPT sent the request]," Ismail said.
"That left us with 19 sites."
The 19 sites are arrahmah.com, voa-islam.com, ghur4ba.blogspot.com, panjimas.com, thoriquna.com, dakwatuna.com,kafilahmujahid.com, an-najah.net, muslimdaily.net, hidayatullah.com, salam-online.com, aqlislamiccenter.com, kiblat.net,dakwahmedia.com, muqawamah.com, lasdipo.com, gemaislam.com, eramuslim.com and daulahislam.com.
Ismail said the ministry was open to input and urged people to file reports with the ministry if they came across sites promoting radical views.
However, according to Ubaidillah Salman from salam-online.com, none of the reported sites support radicalism.
"We don't even report about ISIS. What is ISIS? It doesn't matter to us," he said on Tuesday, referring to the Islamic State (IS) movement, also referred to as ISIS.
Ubaidillah added that the sites merely collected news from other agencies, such as Antara, BBC, AFP, Reuters and CNN.
"Do any of the aforementioned media outlets promote radicalism? I don't think so," he said.
The representatives of the sites are planning to meet with the BNPT to ask for clarification on Tuesday.
Prosecutor in case into killing of Gezi's youngest victim taken hostage in Istanbul courthouse
Hurriyet Daily News [31/3/15]:
Suspected members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) have taken prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage at Istanbul courthouse in connection to the case into the killing of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan.
Gunshots have been heard at the building.
A photo has been released on social media showing someone pointing a gun at the head of Kiraz against the backdrop of a flag of the organization.
According to a statement carried on halkinsesi.tv, a site that is close to the DHKP-C, the perpetrators have given authorities until 3:36 p.m. to meet the demands of the group.
Meanwhile, the first account that shared the photo, @aysekosan123, was hacked soon afterward.
"This account has been seized. Everything is for the TURKISH people," the hackers wrote in a tweet.
The perpetrators' demands include a live confession by the police officers suspected of killing Elvan, the prosecution of the officers responsible in a “people’s court,” the acquittal of all people being tried for participation in solidarity rallies for Elvan, as well as other requests.
Speaking to Hürriyet, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Vedat Yiğit said negotiations between the group and the police "continue via a mediator that they picked."
"There is no problem. Negotiators are talking to the perpetrators," Istanbul police chief Selami Altınok said. He did not reveal the identities of the perpetrators, but noted that two people took the prosecutor hostage.
Police have cordoned off the sixth floor of the courthouse where Kiraz's room is located.
Special teams have been dispatched to the scene, while it remains unknown how the assailants entered the building with a gun.
Elvan died on March 11, 2014, 269 days after he was sent into a coma when he was struck by a tear-gas canister during the Gezi protests.
Kiraz was appointed as the prosecutor of the controversial case six months ago.
Hürriyet correspondent Dinçer Gökçe called the mobile phone number of Kiraz as the hostage situation continued.
"The prosecutor is not available right now," a man said on the phone without revealing his identity. He hung up as another person apparently near him shouted "police."
Hüseyin Aygün, a deputy from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told in a series of tweets that he had called Berkin Elvan's father, Sami Elvan, who demanded the release of the prosecutor.
"My son died, but another person should not die," he quoted the father as saying.
A massive power cut caused chaos Tuesday across Turkey, shutting down the metro networks in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, with the government saying an outside attack on the system was not ruled out. ... [Ahram - 31/3/15]
French Senate overturns bill to punish prostitutes’ clients
France 24 [31/3/15]:
The French Senate, dominated by the opposition conservatives since September, has overturned a proposed law on prostitution that sought to penalise clients instead of sex workers.
The Senate’s legislation completely revises a bill passed by France's lower National Assembly in 2013 that never took effect.
Prostitution is currently legal in France, but prostitutes are often arrested and charged for soliciting in public, which is prohibited.
Brothels, pimping and the sale of sex by minors are also illegal.
The 2013 bill proposed to introduce a 1,500-euro fine for buyers and decriminalise soliciting, known in France as racolage.
But under the new bill passed by the Senate overnight Monday, prostitutes would continue to face fines of up to 3,750 euros and two months in prison for selling sex, while the previous provision of fining clients would be dropped.
The Senate’s revised bill will have to be approved by the National Assembly before it can go into law.
Both versions of the legislation have drawn fierce opposition from sex workers who say they would simply push prostitution further underground and make the women who earn their living from it more vulnerable to abuse.
Hundreds of prostitutes – many South American and Chinese, and many wearing masks – took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest the proposed laws.
"Prostitution is legal in France," said Franceline Lepany, who advocates for sex workers' rights. "This bill seeks to even further stigmatise prostitutes."
"We must go after the mafia, not these women," said Senator Esther Benbassa at Saturday's protest. "We have taken a step backwards. And all this to give society a veneer of morality."
The move to decriminalise prostitution and put the responsibility on clients was inspired by similar legislation on the books since 1999 in Sweden.
France's government argues that the 2013 bill would help prevent violence against women and protect the large majority of prostitutes who are victims of trafficking gangs.
However, the legislation sparked a fierce debate in France over whether criminalising prostitutes' clients would have the effect of reducing the sex trade.
Sweden's anti-prostitution law, which exposes clients to possible six-month prison terms and income-related fines, has reduced street prostitution by half since it was adopted, but it is not clear how much of that trade has simply moved to the Internet.
There are an estimated 30,000 sex workers in France, more than 80 percent of whom come from abroad. According to the interior ministry, most are from Eastern Europe, Africa, China and South America.
A court case so secret, the US government says it can't go on
NZ Herald [29/3/15]:
… This Kafkaesque scenario couldn't happen in the U.S., right?
Not until Monday, it couldn't. That's when a federal judge in the Southern District of New York did exactly that, dismissing a defamation suit by Greek shipping magnate Victor Restis against a shady advocacy group called United Against Nuclear Iran.
This is the first time a US court has dismissed a lawsuit on the basis of state secrets when the case didn't involve either the Government or a defence contractor deeply enmeshed with classified government contracts.
It's also a marvellous example of how secrecy fundamentally distorts the legal process and subverts the rule of law.
When I write about a case, I usually begin by describing the facts.
Here the facts are so secret I can barely say anything.
United Against was founded in 2008 by a former CIA director and a group of retired diplomats to advocate against the nuclear Iran.
Its board includes former directors of foreign intelligence services including the U.K.'s MI-6, Germany's BND - and Israel's Mossad.
One of the strategies pursued by United Against is a campaign to "name and shame" entities that trade with Iran.
The organization named Restis, who in turn sued United Against for falsely claiming his companies were "front men for the illicit activities of the Iranian regime."
The Department of Justice intervened in September, asserting the state secrets privilege.
That so-called privilege doesn't come from the Constitution or from statute.
It's an unwritten judicial rule that allows the Government to block discovery of information through ordinary litigation "when disclosure would be inimical to national security," as the district court described it.
What followed would be comical if it weren't so serious.
The government asserted privilege "by submitting classified declaration by the head of the department which has control over the matter."
But even the identity of that official is itself a secret that the court declined to reveal.
The Government said that "disclosing even the identity of the agency involved creates an unwarranted risk of exposing the information it seeks to protect."
The court accepted that argument.
In addition to reading the Government submission, the court held two meetings with government lawyers, from which plaintiffs and defendants were excluded.
The court then decided that, because it owed "utmost deference" to the executive's concern about the effects of disclosure on national security, it would shut down discovery in the case.
So far, so bad. By denying the attorneys the opportunity to know anything at all about what material was supposed to be suppressed, and even what government agency was seeking its suppression, the judicial branch made itself into a wing of the executive.
Judicial independence under Article III of the Constitution is out the window if the court exercises "utmost deference" and doesn't allow any adversarial process.
Inevitably, the Government will get what it wants.
There was worse to come.
Having barred access to information, the court went on to dismiss the case altogether.
Even if Restis could prove his case without the excluded evidence, the court said, it was "convinced that further litigation of this action would impose an unjustifiable risk of disclosing state secrets."
Farm Workers on Strike in Mexico: International Leader Urges Continued Negotiations
Latin Post [30/3/15]:
As farm workers are currently on strike in Mexico, America urges Mexican Secretary of Labor to continue negotiations with farm workers in Baja California.
International Director of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Cathy Feingold, wrote to Jesus Alfonso Navarrete Prida Saturday urging him to continue the negotiations with the striking agricultural workers.
"On behalf of 12.5 million workers of the AFL-CIO I am writing you to continue dialogue with [the organizations] that represents 80,000 agricultural workers and ensure that the rights of these workers under Mexican law and international conventions are protected," the letter read.
La Alianza and Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionale are working together in demanding an increase in wages for farm workers and the termination of CTM and CROC contracts that have led to violations of their rights.
According to the letter, "protection contracts" are a serious threat to freedom of association and democratic collective bargaining in Mexico.
Workers in Baja California also known as San Quintin, have been denied basic rights that include refusal to pay overtime, sexual harassment, lack of maternity or paternity leave, child labor, discrimination and more.
Members of AFL-CIO urge Secretary Prida to protect the rights of farm workers by ensuring the "effective implementation of Mexican labor laws and the ILO fundamental worker rights."
Feingold also asked for the release of workers arrested in the protest for better work conditions and decent wages.
Leaders of the protests in Mexico have led strikes in different parts of the United States, Los Angeles Times reports.
Fidel Sanchez led a protest in Florida for higher wages from tomato farmers while Justino Herrera led a work stoppage against an abusive labor contractor in Oregon.
The recent labor movement in American agriculture fields in Mexico is the first strike in decades. Workers used to migrate each year north of the border but stricter border security has stopped the migration.
Now tens of thousands of laborers are permanently settled in Baja California and are demanding better working conditions.
Man wounded in shooting at The Caves
Morning Bulletin [31/3/15]:
Police have confirmed they are searching for a 24-year-old male in relation to the shooting of a 53-year-old Rockhampton man.
The victim was taken to Rockhampton Hospital in a stable condition following a shooting incident on a property at The Caves, north of Rockhampton Tuesday afternoon.
Victorian woman and four-year-old grandson fatally stabbed in
Nine MSN [21/3/15]:
A grandmother and her four-year-old grandson have been found stabbed to death at a Melbourne home.
Police also found the woman's 61-year-old husband bound and gagged on the living room floor when they got to the Albanvale home today.
A 45-year-old Chinese woman, who was at the Varsity Court address when police arrived, has been arrested and is being questioned.
The Vietnamese grandparents were babysitting their grandson while his parents were at work, something they did every Tuesday.
The grandfather is recovering from minor injuries in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said the Chinese woman had arrived at the couple's home earlier on Tuesday morning, and an "altercation" erupted after the grandmother got home about 5pm.
Police found the 60-year-old grandmother dead in the backyard, fatally stabbed.
Her grandson's body was found in a bedroom after his grandfather, who was tied up in the living room, asked how he was.
"The scene is quite horrific," Det Sen Sgt Bailey said.
He said the boy's parents, who live at Maidstone, were obviously inconsolable and devastated.
There are four grandchildren in total, but just one was at the Albanvale house at the time.
Neighbours spoke of hearing a dispute at the address before the bodies were found.
A woman, who wished to be known only as Nasma, said she had lived in the area for more than 16 years and was shocked when she heard a woman and child had been killed.
"It's scary," she told AAP.
"Something like that, it just doesn't make you feel safe."
Homicide detectives will remain at the scene overnight, while several witnesses are assisting police at a nearby station.
No charges have been laid.
Tragedy hits family again as bomb victim's daughter stabbed to death at Bexley, Sydney
A woman stabbed to death at a Sydney home on Tuesday was a Lebanese migrant whose mother was killed in an Israeli bomb attack in 2006.
Salwa Haydar's husband, Haydar Haydar, was charged with her murder after the 45-year-old was killed at a unit in Bexley, in Sydney's south.
An 18-year-old girl, believed to be Ms Haydar's daughter, was taken to hospital with serious hand injuries caused by "intervening in the incident", Superintendent David Donohue said.
Haydar, 58, presented to Kogarah police station shortly after the incident and remains in custody after a brief court appearance.
It is the second time tragedy has struck the family in less than a decade.
Ms Haydar's mother, Lila Akil al-Sheikh Hussein, was killed as she tried to escape her village in southern Lebanon in July, 2006, after days of bombing.
Her car was hit by an Israeli shell and Ms Haydar heard the news in Sydney on Al Jazeera television.
"And they said one of the people that killed was my Mum, and they said her name and I just went in shock," Ms Haydar told the ABC's Lateline program at the time.
Ms Haydar moved to Australia almost 30 years ago.
Superintendent Donohue described Tuesday's incident as a "violent attack [causing] multiple injuries and, as you can imagine with the knife wound, it's disturbing".
"Domestics are very concerning for the NSW police force, it's a matter we deal with the most," he said.
"It's very complex in a lot of cases and we understand that it is very difficult to report domestic violence to police because of a whole range of issues, whether it's intimidation, fear or a cultural issue."
The matter will return to court on April 9.
Shame Australia Shame, Stop the war on refugees ...
Protest, Australia House - London [VIDEO - 30/3/15]
Australia's Minister for Immigration: I am protected and unaccountable. Here I am at my refugee death camp on Manus Island basking in the glow of a demented, lying ideology.
With OSB Commander MAJGEN Andrew Bottrell at Manus RPC yesterday ...
Image: @PeterDutton_MP [31/3/15]
This is what the Australian government did to hunger striking refugees incarcerated on Manus Island who called for UN intervention: "We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us" [January 2015]
... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]
"Please help us. please help us. We are scared here."
Pleas from #ManusProtest ... Image: @rranwa [16/1/15]
Sydney Morning Herald [4/9/14]:
... Several weeks ago, two of the asylum seekers who were housed in Mike compound had never heard of Chauka.
One of them was an eyewitness to the murder of Reza Barati during the night of violence that engulfed the centre in February.
All that changed when they voiced their opposition to changes to the detention centre policy covering phone and internet access, insisting the changes made it almost impossible to talk to family members in the Middle East.
In a graphic account subsequently posted on Facebook, the Iranian who witnessed Barati's murder said he had been taken to Chauka, fed bread and water for three days and made to sleep on the muddy ground. ...
Australia's mandatory detention of refugees = torture.
When will unions and professional organisations call for an end to it? Are they at least warning members about possible future liability for crimes against humanity?
Australian Association of Social Workers [30/3/15]:
... A professional faced with the dilemma of choosing between reporting serious harm to a child and breaking a law of the land has a hard choice. They certainly should seek advice, particularly from senior people in their organization and their profession. They should look for ways round the dilemma so that the child can be protected without breaking any law. However, it is hoped that professionals will always ultimately choose protecting children, even if it involves significant personal cost.
The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The great achievement of this movement was to send a message of freedom to people all around the globe.
Message from #Manus via @shanebazzi:
Hello dear Australians,
Thirsty Manus has been quenched after fourteen days.
To every single person who is concerned about human rights and freedom:
What you are reading is our message from Manus. Manus is a place that has many similarities with Guantanamo prison. As a matter of fact, it is known as Australian Guantanamo.
More than nine hundred people, nine hundred champions, carried out the largest hunger strike in the history in order to inform the world about the oppressed sound of their innocence.
Today, 27th of January 2015, after more than fourteen days of struggle between oppressor and oppressed, between black and white, wrong and right, rich and poor, the hunger strike is ended while it has indicated the willpower and determination of the oppressed people who had fled from persecutors of their countries and sought asylum in Australia.
But it is unfortunate that these days Australia does not bear signs of having commitment to human rights.
Australian people, what you were told about the situation of Manus Island by the Liberal government during these fourteen days was an absolute lie. Similar to previous movements, this movement was also a peaceful one without any type of violence from our side.
In order to solve problems, we strongly believe in negotiating principles.
It is unbelievable that people from every walk of life and different civil societies such as High Court of Australia remain silent in regards to this cruelty in the name of national interest. This unequal struggle has been finished today while the United Nations does not make any comments on this incident at all.
The great achievement of this movement was to send a message of freedom to people all around the globe.
A message of freedom which has been only a dream and a desire for us so far, however, we are hoping to celebrate the fulfilment of our deisre in the not too distant future with the assistance of Australian people, human rights organisations, lawyers, journalists, refugee advocates, reporters, politicians, various political parties including The Greens, Nationals, Palmer United, Labor, and at last, those members of Liberal party who still care about humanity and are concerned about the future of Australia.
At the end I would like to express my gratitutde to those people, either in Asutralia or other parts of the world, who commiserate with us and who support us in different ways during this period. In fact, your support gives us a lot of encouragement and develops our ability to continue our efforts in this rough and difficult path.
Government knew of abuse on Nauru months before it acted, staff to allege [Guardian – 31/3/15]:
… Liberty Victoria has launched an online campaign protesting against cuts made a year ago to legal assistance for asylum seekers making a refugee claim.
Kon Karapanagiotidis from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the funding cuts had created an almost insurmountable barrier to people accessing justice and a fair assessment of their refugee claim.
“Assessing refugee claims can quite literally be the difference between life and death. Vulnerable people going through this process without lawyers compromises the integrity of the system and leads to poorer decision-making. It inevitably leads to people who are refugees not being recognised as such and being wrongfully returned to harm.”
And a coalition of disability groups has released a joint statement calling for legislative changes to ensure asylum seekers with disabilities are not placed in mandatory detention.
The government told Senate estimates there were 268 detainees with disabilities in onshore immigration detention facilities as at 30 September last year. Forty-nine of those were children. The minister’s office has been contacted for comment.
On Monday night Julian Burnside QC launching a swingeing attack on Labor and Coalition policies as he delivered the Hal Wootten Lecture at the University of NSW.
He said mandatory detention of boat-borne asylum seekers caused serious physical and mental harm, and that the temporary protection visas reintroduced in Decemberhad encouraged people to board boats run by people-smugglers, because they felt it was the only way they could be reunited with their families.
“One of the most distressing things about the present situation is that it is based on a series of lies. When politicians called boat people ‘illegals’ and ‘queue jumpers’ they are not telling the truth. When politicians say that they are concerned about people drowning in their attempt to reach safety, they are not telling the truth,” he said.
“Australia is now judged overseas by its behaviour as cruel and selfish. We treat frightened, innocent people as criminals. It is a profound injustice.”
PNG: Hela Province needs magistrate, police say
The National [31/3/15]:
The unavailability of a district court magistrate in Hela is affecting police work, provincial police commander acting Chief Superintendent Mark Yangen says.
He said from Tari it had been five months since the resident magistrate left and police could not take offenders to court.
Yangen said the work of the police force was to prosecute people breaking the law and bring them to justice.
But they were helpless if they did not have a magistrate to hear the cases.
He said they had 150 cases waiting for a magistrate. Most were people arrested during the special combined operation with soldiers last year to stop tribal fights in Hela.
“I want to appeal to the chief magistrate to appoint a magistrate to be based in Tari and hear the backlog of cases and other police cases,” he said.
He said the Tari police station cell could not accommodate all offenders.
“We are releasing people committing indictable offences like rape, murder, grievously bodily harm and other serious criminal offences on bail because we have nowhere to keep them and take them to court,” he said.
He said police were not supposed to do that.
He said national court judges come on their circuit, hear cases and return.
He suggests that a permanent magistrate be appointed because police would guarantee security for him or her.
A magistrate based there left last year because of security reasons.
A teenage girl was chopped to death by a group of armed men numbering about 15 on Sunday night.
Police say the men attacked Piangoanda village in Komo-Magarima, Hela Province on suspicion over the theft of seven pigs earlier. ... [PNG Loop - 31/3/15]
Australian High Commission, Hela provincial government and ExxonMobil PNG announce a partnership to support and expand community safety [Australian High Commission PNG Media Release - 11/12/14]:
Hela Governor, Mr. Anderson Agiru, ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG) Managing Director Peter Graham and Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Deborah Stokes, signed a Statement of Principles committing support for community safety through the PNG-Australia Law and Justice - Transition Program.
A Memorandum of Understanding was subsequently signed between the Australia High Commission and EMPNG enabling joint funding of a full-time Tari-based community safety adviser.
“This is an excellent example of how business and development partners can work together to improve the lives of Papua New Guineans. Our partnership affirms our joint commitment to supporting and expanding community safety, and to the economic development of Papua New Guinea,” Ms Stokes said.
The placement of a Community Safety Adviser in Tari will support the Hela government’s efforts to strengthen local justice delivery, improve collaboration with national agencies and assist in reporting justice outcomes. Of particular focus will be support for Village Courts and reducing and preventing family and sexual violence.
Governor Agiru extended his full support to the initiative.
“The placement of a full-time law and justice advisor in Hela is welcomed, as it builds upon the work already done by the PALJP team in the province. My administration fully supports this initiative, and we appreciate the willingness of the PNG national government, the Australian government and ExxonMobil to support Hela’s development priorities.”
ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Peter Graham noted during the signing ceremony that development challenges require ongoing collaboration between the public sector, industry and civil society.
“ExxonMobil remains committed to helping develop human, social and economic capacity in PNG. We are pleased to support the Law and Justice Partnership and commend the PALJP -TP team and the Hela Provincial Government for moving this initiative forward.”
NZ Government proposes animal cosmetic testing ban
The Government is proposing a law change that will ban testing for the cosmetics industry on animals.
It will add a change to the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which is being debated in Parliament this evening.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said, to the best of the Government's knowledge, there had never been any animal testing for cosmetics in New Zealand.
But he said the amendment would send an important message that this kind of testing was unacceptable to New Zealanders.
"The Government has decided to introduce an alternative to the original [amendment] introduced by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers because of concerns the wording may have been too broad.
"This could lead to unintended consequences such as banning testing on ingredients in medicines that New Zealanders depend on."
The change bans animal testing for finished cosmetic products and ingredients, where those ingredients are being tested for the exclusive purpose of developing a cosmetic.
Mr Guy thanked Ms Mathers for her work on the issue.
Ms Mathers said it was fantastic that New Zealand would be able to say that it had banned a cruel and outdated practice.
"I'm over the moon that the Government has acknowledged my work on this issue by finally agreeing to ban cosmetics testing on animals."
Concerns held for a woman and her eight children, NSW
QPS Media [31/3/15]:
– Issued on behalf of New South Wales Police Force –
Police are appealing for assistance from the community to locate a mother and her eight children who are missing from the Central Coast in New South Wales.
Officers from Brisbane Water Local Area Command are trying to locate 39-year-old Rachel Pawsey (pictured below) from Niagara Park.
Rachel was last seen on Friday 27 March 2015, boarding a train at Wyong Station. She was accompanied by her eight children, aged between two and 14, and no-one has seen or heard from any of them since.
Police have concerns for the welfare of the children, as some require medicine and police believe they have only a limited supply with them.
As a result of initial investigations, police believe Rachel may have headed towards Queensland.
Investigators are appealing for anyone with information about the whereabouts of Ms Pawsey or her children to contact Gosford Police Station or Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Queensland police officer suspended over interference claims
A Queensland police officer has been suspended and charged, accused of assaulting a man and trying to interfere with an investigation.
The 34-year-old male constable from Booral, near Hervey Bay, has been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and attempting to pervert justice.
"It will be alleged that while off duty, the officer assaulted a 30-year-old man and attempted to interfere with an investigation," said a police statement issued on Tuesday.
He will appear before Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on April 24.
services officers accused of assaulting man at Jacana train station
CCTV obtained by the ABC shows two Victoria Police Protective Services Officers allegedly assaulting a man at a Melbourne train station after he refused to let them search his bag without a reason.
Moustafa Sayegh said he was approached by two PSOs at Jacana Station at Glenroy, in Melbourne's north-west, last June.
He said they asked him where he was going and requested to search his bag, but he declined when they did not provide a reason.
"They have no right to why go through the embarrassment of having people walking past and see you being treated like a criminal?" he told the ABC.
Mr Sayegh said the officers then became aggressive and one lunged at him when he tried to record the encounter on his phone.
The vision shows the officer leap towards him, then a scuffle, as both officers hold him against a railing.
"The PSO on my left was punching me in the ribs and elbowing me to the side of the head," he said.
"I was quite terrified, because they'd become so aggressive and out of control."
Victoria Police declined to be interviewed about Mr Sayegh's allegations, but in a statement said Mr Sayegh had not lodged a complaint.
ABC News also obtained a recording of the officers calling for back up, in which Mr Sayegh can be heard calling for help.
"I'm being assaulted, I'm being assaulted by two police," he shouts in the recording.
"I had pain in my ribs, I had pain in the side of my head at that point I was thinking there's only one thing further for them to do and that's for them to start using their weapons against me," Mr Sayegh told the ABC.
One officer can then be heard saying, "he's still resisting (arrest), get the handcuffs here".
Mr Sayegh said when one of the officers dislocated his thumb he lashed out and kicked the officer.
He has been charged with assaulting a PSO.
The Federation of Community Legal Centres today released a report warning it was concerned an altercation with PSOs could turn fatal.
The report found PSOs, who are armed with guns, were using excessive force and questioning people in a way they were not authorised to.
"Our number one concern is the number of times that PSOs are asking, or rather, demanding information from people," the federation's Michelle McDonnell said.
"When people are innocently sitting and waiting for their train, they're being asked questions they don't feel comfortable answering.
"We're finding these kinds of exchanges can actually develop into conflict situations."
Ms McDonnell said she also had concerns about the excessive use of force by PSOs.
"We've had situations where people have been physically handled and bruised, we've had people who have been forced to the ground and handcuffed so that PSOs could go through their bags," she said.
Ex-ABC Learning CFO avoids jail
The former chief financial officer of failed childcare company ABC Learning Centres has escaped jail over his role in concealing more than $46 million from shareholders.
James Black, 46, was handed 18 months' jail but immediately released on a $2000, two-year good behaviour bond on Tuesday for helping mislead an auditor of the former childcare group.
He was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court after earlier pleading guilty to making available false and misleading information to the auditor.
The sentence comes six years after the investigation into ABC Learning began, following the childcare giant's 2008 collapse with debts up to $2.7 billion.
Now the chief financial officer at mining company QCoal, Black admitted authorising or permitting two false "engagement letters" to the auditor.
They were used to justify payments of $13.5 million and $33 million by ABC Learning to an unrelated company named ABC Acquisitions in December 2006.
The payments purported to be for services related to ABC Learning's purchase of childcare centre chains in the United States and United Kingdom.
However ABC Acquisitions, a private company, wasn't involved in acquiring the companies, nor engaged to provide the services it was paid for.
Judge Anthony Rafter said Black had been acting on instructions by former ABC Learning chief executive Eddy Groves.
The letters resulted in the concealment of $46.5
million which would otherwise have been accounted for differently in ABC
Learning Centres' accounts, he added.
"You were not the architect of the offence but your participation was necessary," Justice Rafter told Black. "You occupied a position of trust.
"The board, shareholders and the market more generally depended on you discharging your duties with integrity.
"You failed dismally."
The conviction automatically disqualifies the father of three from managing a corporation.
In 2012, former ABC Learning director Martin Kemp was acquitted of dishonesty charges relating to his position, and charges against Groves were subsequently dropped.
Ross River virus cases hit 20-year high in Queensland
The number of Ross River virus cases in Queensland has hit a 20-year high.
Queensland Health said more than 3,500 people have contracted the mosquito-borne disease since January.
That is about 1,000 more than all of the cases recorded in 2014.
Rain and humid weather across southern parts of the state are to blame for an influx of mosquitoes.
Councils have been spraying around wetlands, but health officials are urging people to take precautions to avoid being bitten.
Apartheid WA delays asbestos inspections in remote communities
Western Australia's Department of Housing has been accused of dragging its heels on plans to inspect hundreds of government-owned houses for asbestos in remote Aboriginal communities.
The Opposition raised concerns about why the inspections had not started and said it was concerned it could be linked to State Government's plans to close up to 150 communities.
Last September the department flagged a tender for a contractor to inspect more than 1,200 houses for asbestos, and update the register of asbestos-containing materials.
According to the tender documents, the successful contractor would also report to the department after doing inspections in each community, including immediate notification of friable or easily crushable asbestos.
But the tender was later withdrawn and the reason given that it had "been deferred to a later date".
After the ABC asked the department about the deferral, it said the tender had actually been withdrawn because new head maintenance contractors had been appointed at the start of November and it had been decided they would carry out the work instead.
Now, questions in Parliament reveal no inspections have been undertaken by the head contractors since they were appointed five months ago.
Opposition housing spokesman Fran Logan said no delay was acceptable when children and families could be exposed to deadly asbestos.
"If you've seen some of these communities, and I have been to quite a few as a former minister for housing, you see there's often damage to those homes," he said.
"You know there is asbestos risk and that risk has to be assessed.
"We don't know how much asbestos is there but that investigation was going to give the Government direction on how much money needed to be spent.
"At the end of the day the Government is responsible for maintenance and housekeeping at those communities and they are clearly failing to inspect all houses for asbestos.
"It's out of sight, out of mind."
Mr Logan said he had no doubt that the failure to act swiftly on the asbestos inspections was linked to plans to withdraw essential services from up to 150 communities.
"The tender was flagged for asbestos inspection, it was then withdrawn and nothing has been done," he said.
"It's now nearly April and the whole process started in September, but what we do know is that in between time the Premier has flagged the closure of remote Aboriginal communities; of course it's linked."
Childers community rallies to protest pool funding decision
News Mail [31/3/15]:
A sea of blue marched down the Bruce Highway earlier today with a message for Health Minister Cameron Dick, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the rest of the state government.
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett and then-Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced $300,000 for the project on January 12.
The LNP's loss to Labor in the state election saw not only a change in government, but a change in the hydrotherapy pool's future, as Mr Dick canned the funds.
The Childers community as incensed when Mr Dick said the pool was not funded so the project would not proceed, so the Isis District Residents and Ratepayers Association and Mr Bennett organised the protest to try to convince the Labor government to overturn their decision.
Australia's "opposition" leader Bill Shorten: Leave co-operating with the LNP to the parliament (see bipartisan, draconian legislation) [ABC - 31/3/15]:
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has suggested former Labor minister Martin Ferguson should be expelled from the party, if he "actively co-operated" with the Coalition during the New South Wales election campaign.
Senior Labor figures are furious with Mr Ferguson for supporting the Liberal Party's plans to privatise the state's electricity network at the height of the campaign, and publicly denouncing his own party's stance. ...
Is inducing an MP to resign based on an unproven Murdoch Press hate campaign parliamentary contempt?
PARLIAMENT OF QUEENSLAND ACT 2001 - SECT 37
Australia tortures refugees.
A 25-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who has been on a hunger strike for almost 40 days is near death in a Perth hospital, the ABC has learned.
It is understood Saeed Hassanloo is being treated at Royal Perth Hospital after being transferred from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre on March 10.
He has been refusing food for 37 days, and the ABC has been told doctors fear he will not survive if he does not eat soon.
Mr Hassanloo has been fighting for a visa to stay in Australia since he fled Iran in 2009.
He has been held in detention for the past four-and-a-half years, first in a community detention centre in Melbourne and then at Yongah Hill.
It is understood psychiatric assessments have deemed him sound of mind, and therefore able to decide whether or not he wishes to eat.
That assessment is significant because people have to consent to eat while they are being treated in hospital, unless they are being treated under the Mental Health Act or under the care of a guardian.
A spokesman for the Department of Immigration confirmed an Iranian adult male from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre was being cared for in hospital, however he would not be drawn on specific details of the case.
In a statement, the spokesman said the department was working very closely with medical staff to ensure the man was receiving appropriate care.
"The Government has made it very clear that when a person has exhausted all avenues to remain in Australia, they are expected to depart Australia," the spokesman said.
Offshore detention. Mandatory detention. WE WANT THESE POLICIES TO END.
Rez Nez film of Palm Sunday rally, Perth [29/3/15]
Australia tortures refugees.
Australian media examine Titanic's shifting deckchairs - Dutton, Marles remain protected and unaccountable. [Canberra Times - 31/3/15]
British media report that the Australian government are going to close the Nauru refugee concentration camp's school this week. [Guardian - 31/3/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq - say Syria got a 24 hour reprieve
On March 29, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using fighter, attack and bomber aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 29, and 8 a.m., March 30, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
CJTF-OIR conducted no airstrikes in Syria between 8 a.m., March 29, and 8 a.m., March 30, local time.
Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck multiple ISIL fighting positions.
Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL rocket launcher and an ISIL building.
Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.
Near Tikrit, three airstrikes struck multiple ISIL buildings and destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Canadian lawmakers voted Monday to extend a campaign of airstrikes against the Islamic State group and for the first time strike at them in Syria as well as in Iraq. ... [Naharnet - 30/3/15]
The Defence Minister says an agreement has been reached with Iraq giving New Zealand troops the right to defend themselves during deployment there. ... [RNZI - 31/3/15]
US backed Saudi air strike kills at least 40 at refugee camp, Yemen
An air strike killed at least 40 people at a camp for displaced people in north Yemen on Monday, humanitarian workers said, in an attack which apparently targeted nearby Houthi fighters who are battling President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Yemen's state news agency Saba, which is under the control of the Houthis, said the camp at Haradh was hit by Saudi planes. It said the dead included women and children, and showed the bodies of five children laid out on a blood-streaked floor.
A Saudi military spokesman said the kingdom was seeking clarification on the incident.
"It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp," Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said.
"We will ask the Yemeni official agencies to confirm that," he told reporters.
A humanitarian worker said earlier that the strike hit a truck of Houthi militiamen at the gate to the Mazraq camp, near Haradh, killing residents, guards and fighters.
The medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres said at least 34 wounded people were brought to a hospital in Haradh which it supports. Another 29 were dead on arrival.
"People in Al Mazraq camp have been living in very harsh conditions and now they have suffered the consequences of an air strike on the camp," said Pablo Marco, MSF operational manager for Yemen.
Mazraq, in the province of Hajja next to the Saudi border, is a cluster of camps that are home to thousands of Yemenis displaced by over a decade of wars between the Houthis and the Yemeni state, as well as East African migrants.
Two people tried to run their vehicle through the National Security Agency's gates near Washington on Monday before guards at the spy agency fatally shot one of them, said officials, who added there was no evidence of a link to terrorism. ... [Reuters - 30/3/15]
Al Jazeera [30/3/15]:
The US defence department has denied claims that it killed two Iranian advisers in drone strikes in Iraq earlier this month, telling Al Jazeera it had no role in the area during the time of their deaths.
Pentagon officials dismissed allegations made by Iran on Monday that US-led strikes killed Ali Yazdani and Hadi Jafari, two members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on March 23 near the city of Tikrit.
"Coalition forces initiated airstrikes near Tikrit on March 25, two days after the alleged incident occurred and no airstrikes were conducted in or near Tikrit on March 23," the department told Al Jazeera.
"Additionally, we have no information to corroborate claims that coalition airstrikes killed two IGRC members."
A major offensive, backed by US airstrikes, is underway to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
However, in recent days Iraqi forces have struggled to advance on the city after Shia militias boycotted the latest offensive after the US, who did not initially take part in the offensive, joined the operation.
Shia militias, who receive backing from Tehran, have repeatedly said they do not need US support to drive ISIL from Tikrit despite the Baghdad government requesting the raids.
A US-led coalition began airstrikes against the ISIL in Iraq in August, while Iran has been advising and supporting the Shia militias that have played a key role in ground operations alongside Iraq's military.
However, Washington and Tehran, which remain deeply divided on a host of regional issues, insist they are not coordinating with one another on the battlefield.
An international Red Cross worker was killed and a local colleague wounded when the aid truck they were driving came under fire in northern Mali on Monday, in an attack claimed by the MUJAO jihadist group. ... [Naharnet - 30/3/15]
A father of three has blamed his use of large amounts of the drug ice as the reason why he repeatedly raped, beat and degraded a terrified Dutch backpacker held hostage for six weeks in a Melbourne hotel room. ... [The Age - 30/3/15]
Canberra priest allegedly told church official that incident with girl was 'not sexual' [ABC – 30/3/15]
Police are probing whether a fire that gutted one of Melbourne's oldest churches is related to a notorious paedophile priest.
Police confirmed the fire, which largely destroyed the 123-year-old St James Church in Brighton on Monday morning, was being treated as suspicious.
Fairfax Media understands detectives are now investigating if the fire is linked to the crimes of Ronald Pickering, who served as the church's parish priest from 1978 to 1993 before he fled to the United Kingdom, fearing prosecution. ... [The Age - 31/3/15]
Malaysia arrests news website editors
Channel News Asia [31/3/15]:
Malaysian press groups on Tuesday criticised the arrest of three editors at a leading news portal over a disputed report, calling it part of a "worrying trend" of declining press-freedom standards.
The editors for The Malaysian Insider were arrested late Monday on suspicion of sedition and spent the night in jail, the website said.
They were arrested over a report last week that said Muslim-majority Malaysia's nine state sultans had rejected an opposition party's proposal to amend federal law to allow tough sharia criminal punishments such as amputating the hands of thieves.
The portal said the royal council denied the article's claim and filed a police report.
The Centre for Independent Journalism called the arrests excessive and "part of a worrying trend of a decline in standards of freedom of expression in Malaysia" and an "assault on the rule of law".
Those arrested were Managing Editor Lionel Morais and editors Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong. A sedition conviction can bring up to three years in jail.
It is not clear how the report could be considered seditious, but Malaysia has strict rules against insulting the ceremonial sultans.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's government has been condemned at home and abroad for arresting scores of opposition politicians, academics, and activists over the past year on sedition and other charges.
The crackdown began following a poor government showing in 2013 elections and escalated recently as the government has come under fire for jailing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in February, and over mounting allegations of financial wrongdoing in a government investment fund.
Geramm, a coalition of journalists and activists, called the journalist's arrests "an attempt to use undue influence to silence the media".
In February, a cache of books by Zunar, one of Malaysia's best-known political cartoonists who is known for skewering Najib and his family, was seized by police.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, had been arrested several days earlier for questioning Anwar's jailing on sodomy charges, a ruling also criticised by the United States and a range of legal and rights groups.
Police have arrested The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and The Malaysian Insider chief executive Jahabar Sadiq under the Sedition Act over the news portal's report on Islamic criminal laws or hudud. ... [The Malaysian Insider - 31/3/15]
Four journalists arrested during last summer's Ferguson protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown filed a federal lawsuit Monday against St. Louis County police and 20 of its officers, accusing them of violating the reporters' civil rights and unjustifiably detaining them. ... [Yahoo - 30/3/15]
Cyclone Pam - 'It is a monster'
RNZI [VIDEO - 31/3/15]:
Exclusive footage showing the devastation to remote communities in Vanuatu, in a unique collaboration between Radio New Zealand International's Koroi Hawkins and filmmaker Shaun O' Callaghan.
A disaster official in the state of Yap says there's not much that can be done to avoid the impact of Maysak, which is quickly becoming a supertyphoon.
Maysak is due to make landfall on the two tiny atolls of Fais and Ulithi late this afternoon, and it is tracking to the north of Yap, but could make landfall at midnight or early tomorrow, local time. ... [RNZI - 31/3/15]
Queensland police don't shoot high school students
Toowoomba State High School's Wilsonton campus went into lockdown this morning after reports a student had brought a gun to the school.
A Queensland Police Media spokesman said it was quickly discovered that the gun was actually a toy.
"It was a kid who brought a toy gun into school and the school went into lockdown," he said.
"Police have spoken to him and the school has gone back to normal now."
Rockhampton man sells dad's rifle that was locked away, lands in court [Morning Bulletin - 31/3/15]
Gladstone Observer [31/3/15]:
Electrician Tony Bryce and his apprentice, Quinn Jarvis, say they aren't suspicious characters but their behaviour on Thursday certainly had police believing otherwise.
A story in this newspaper told of police hiding out after someone reported seeing two suspicious men put a container into bushes off Blain Dr.
The "suspicious" container was later found to be a 'geocache', part of an elaborate game where people use GPS devices to find hidden items.
14-year-old boy crashes car following police pursuit, Perth
West Australian [31/3/15]:
A 14-year-old boy was allegedly in possession of methylamphetamine last night while leading police on a high-speed chase through Perth and eventually crashed into a wall.
Police will allege the chase started on Redunca Way in Mirrabooka about 7.20pm, when the driver of a stolen Toyota Camry refused to stop.
Officers allegedly followed the boy through Mirrabooka, Dianella and Inglewood, as he reached speeds of more than 140kmh and drove on the wrong side of the road.
The driver allegedly mounted a footpath on John Street in Inglewood and jumped out of the car, leaving it to crash into a small retaining wall.
A police spokesman said the boy was arrested moments later as he tried to climb onto the roof of a shed.
Officers allegedly seized an amount of methylamphetamine.
Injured driver flown from Gladstone to Brisbane following crash
Gladstone Observer [31/3/15]:
More than 50 residents stood on Chapman Dr, Clinton on Monday night and watched as firefighters and paramedics tended to a young man who had crashed his car into a pole.
Witnesses reported seeing the car skid for more than 30m on the busy Clinton road before it hit the pole and spun around to face the other direction.
Firefighters worked to cut the critically injured man out of his car, before a tow truck was used to pull the car away from the pole.
The man was reportedly trapped below the knees.
He has been flown to Brisbane but his condition is unknown at this stage.
One witness told The Observer she heard what sounded like a car increasing in speed quickly, before a really loud bang.
"It sounded like someone really put their foot down."
She said she went over and spoke to the man, who told her it was his birthday.
"He's just a young boy," she said. "He could be my son."
Another witness, and a resident on the road, said he thought this was the fourth major accident in four years in the area.
"This street is like a racetrack."
Man faces court charged with murder after stabbing his wife in Sydney's south
A man has faced court after being charged with murder following the stabbing death of his wife at Bexley in Sydney's south.
Police were called to a unit on Valda Street at Bexley about 6.45pm last night, following reports a woman had been stabbed.
A 45-year-old woman was found with fatal stab wounds and pronounced dead at the scene.
An 18-year-old, who was also at the unit, was found with serious injuries to her hands.
It is understood is the teenager is the couple's daughter. She was taken to St George Hospital.
About 7:00pm a 58-year-old man handed himself in to police at Kogarah Station where he was later charged with murder.
Haydar Haydar was also charged with wound with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.
He faced Kogarah Local Court today and was refused bail.
The case has been adjourned until April 9.
Yesterday, a police spokeswoman said it appeared there had been a domestic dispute at the home.
Carmichael mine legal challenge begins
A five-week court case objecting to a $16.5 billion coal mine in the Galilee Basin is set to begin in Queensland's Land Court.
Lobby group Coast and Country says litigation is its last resort to stop Indian giant Adani's plans to extract up to 100 million tonnes of coal a year from the Carmichael mine.
The company last year won state government approval to construct a 300km rail line linking the mine with the Abbot Point coal terminal, north of Bowen.
Those opposed to the project argue it will threaten the local ground and surface water supplies, the Great Barrier Reef, the Queensland economy and the world's climate.
It was also given special treatment by the former Newman government with royalty breaks, according to Coast and Country spokesman Derec Davies.
"They (the former government) took at face value the misleading claims about the extent to which Queensland will benefit," he said.
"Part of our case is that Queensland will not benefit from this mine."
The group has also raised questions about the company's inability to finance the project.
The mine, which would be the third biggest coal mine in the world, has also stirred tensions with traditional owners the Wangan and Jagalingou people (W&J).
Last week a W&J spokesman, Adrian Burragubba, announced they had rejected an indigenous land use agreement associated with the project.
In return, Adani rejected Mr Burragubba's statements saying he was not an authorised spokesman for the group.
The company had been working closely with the W&J since late 2011 under a cultural heritage management plan, a spokesman said.
Over the next month, the legal challenge to the project will expected to hear from environmental, indigenous, groundwater, climate, finance and economic experts.
Claimants ink $1.3 billion Western Australia Noongar native title deal [ABC – 30/3/15]
Fred Nile wants inquiry into NSW electricity privatisation
Brisbane Times [30/3/15]:
Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile says he wants a "short and sharp" inquiry into the Baird government's electricity privatisation plans that would report by the end of April or early May.
Premier Mike Baird has said he wants to get the first transaction, the 99-year lease of the electricity transmission business Transgrid, under way as soon as possible, with legislation brought before Parliament when it resumes in May.
It is understood work on the expressions of interest process will begin immediately.
The Reverend Nile, whose party is likely to hold the balance of power in the upper house, has said his support for the legislation is conditional on the inquiry being completed and its findings.
The proposed select committee would be dominated by non-government members and likely chaired by Mr Nile.
The Greens and the Shooters and Fishers Party would have one representative each and there would be two each from the Coalition and Labor.
"It would not be a censored committee," Mr Nile said. "It would be open to all points of view."
Among the issues likely to be examined are whether electricity prices are likely to rise under private ownership and the attempted intervention by the Premier's office into a UBS analyst's report on the transaction before the election.
This would likely involve calling UBS executives and the Premier's staff to give evidence under oath about the controversy, which saw the line that the transaction was "bad for the budget" removed from an amended report.
Greens MP John Kaye said the party would seek to subpoena the Treasurer - who will be known after the coming reshuffle - and Treasury officials.
Dr Kaye said the Greens would want to know "what guarantees will there be that energy efficiency programs will be still run for the best interests of the state".
Shooters and Fishers Party MP Robert Borsak said his party would like to see the UBS controversy in the terms of reference because "it's important to get to the bottom of what actually happened in that situation".
Mr Borsak and Labor shadow Treasurer Michael Daley flagged a separate inquiry into the UBS incident during the election campaign.
Mr Borsak said he would also like the inquiry to examine which potential buyers the government has been in discussions with, including the Chinese government owned State Grid Corp.
State Grid Corp dominated the final week of the campaign after the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union advertisements raised concerns about the appropriateness of it being a potential purchaser of Transgrid.
Thousands attend anti-austerity rally in Brussels [teleSUR - 30/3/15]
Melbourne widow sues building firm after workers' compo denied
The Age [30/3/15]:
A widow and her two young sons are suing a building company for compensation after a four-metre wall collapsed and killed a tradesman on a Melbourne worksite.
Isabel Klanja, 29, says she is struggling to support her family because WorkSafe did not provide financial assistance on the grounds that her husband, Michael Klanja, was a subcontractor and not an employee when he died last year.
Sole traders and contractors who work for themselves are not considered employees under the workers' compensation scheme and are ineligible for WorkSafe insurance.
Ms Klanja, of Tooradin, has launched legal action seeking damages from building firm Bilic Homes, which had contracted her husband as a carpenter.
The 30-year-old was killed when a brick wall collapsed during a strong gust of wind at a Bilic Homes housing project in Brighton East on June 23.
Ms Klanja said her family had been plunged into financial hardship, including owing thousands of dollars in outstanding funeral costs. Single-parenting benefits are her only source of income.
She said she felt authorities had let her down.
"I have just paid $2000 of bills, and now all I have is $5 in my wallet to last until payday on Thursday," she said. "These stresses are always on my mind – the stresses of the things that need to be paid for. I can't sleep at night."
Ms Klanja said she hoped her situation would help "get the word out" to other sole traders and contractors that they needed adequate private insurance coverage. "They need to get their own insurance policies because this could be the outcome if they don't," she said.
In the civil lawsuit filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, the Klanja family alleges Bilic Homes was negligent in failing to ensure the half-built wall was adequately braced during the strong winds on the day and failing to provide a safe workplace. Lawyer John Karantzis, of Nowicki Carbone, said the damages sought included all future earnings and would be "significant".
WorkSafe Victoria has also launched a criminal prosecution of Bilic Homes after an investigation into the wall collapse uncovered serious alleged safety breaches.
Bilic Homes has been charged with multiple workplace violations and could face heavy penalties.
Company director Stan Bilic said the legal proceedings were in the hands of his lawyers, but indicated he may fight the allegations and plead not guilty.
"I don't have anything to say, other than I have been in this game for the last 42 years. I don't see ourselves guilty. I can't comment on it more than that."
Meanwhile, Ms Klanja's friends have started an online fundraising campaign to help the young family meet day-to-day expenses including mortgage payments, bills, funeral costs and childcare fees.
Ms Klanja said she battles every day with the pain of losing her husband, who was her sweetheart since they were teenagers.
"The kids cry every night, saying, 'Mum, can you get Papa and bring him home? I don't know how to explain he is not here. I never expected this."
Business as usual as media, politicians promote Gold Coast Commonwealth Games disaster capitalism
A new approach to preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast will be announced on Tuesday - some three months after an auditor-general's report criticised organisers.
Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones says the changes will ensure the 2018 Games are delivered on time and for the benefit of Queenslanders, Gold Coast residents, businesses and industry.
She'll unveil the plan on Tuesday morning alongside Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) chairman Nigel Chamier, as well as chief executive Mark Peters.
It comes after the Queensland's auditor-general warned Games organisers they needed to revamp their budgeting procedure and streamline their structure.
In a report to parliament tabled last December, Queensland Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said preparations for the Games were not at the "level of maturity" required to deal with the entire program of work.
At the time, Mr Peters denied the structure warranted altering and said the system was working well.
The report also revealed the current target for the net cost of the Games is $1.483 billion, which is an increase of $113.2 million on the initial bid budget.
Boob police strike again: Mother kicked off plane for breastfeeding son
Virgin Australia has come under fire for calling federal and local police after a woman refused to stop breastfeeding her son.
As the plane taxied down the runway, Virginie Rutgers started breastfeeding her crying 10-month old son.
She used a baby sling to cover up for privacy - but she said the cabin supervisor demanded she remove it.
"He started to raise his voice and [was] being quite abusive."
Virginie said staff refused to explain why the baby carrier was a safety hazard.
Instead, the pilot returned to the terminal and Virginie was forced off the plane - where federal and local police officers were waiting.
"I was in a state of shock and he was screaming because I couldn't feed him any more."
Virginie was released without charge but she was stranded on the Gold Coast.
"We were just left on our own at the airport, literally."
Nursing lecturer from RMIT, Jennifer James, said the move was uncalled for.
"She was doing the right thing by her baby and she was penalised for it."
A Virgin Australia representative was adamant that breastfeeding had nothing to do with Virginie's experience.
"Our crew acted in accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations and, most importantly, with your child's safety at the forefront of their actions."
Ron Bartsch from Aviation law consultants said he understood the move by the airline.
"I can understand that they would have taken precautions to remove that as a risk."
Virgin refused to compensate Virginie for the extra night in a hotel and cab rides but offered her a flight credit instead but she was unmoved.
"I'm just not willing to travel with them at all any more,” she said.
She returned home on Qantas.
Rupert Murdoch's Media Empire Pushes Baseless Conspiracy Theory That Google "Controls The White House" [Media Matters - 30/3/15]
Billy Gordon is entitled to remain his seat.
The Queensland media are lying by omission.
Under the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 S. 64 (2) there is nothing in Billy Gordon MP's history to disqualify him from parliament.
(2) A person is a disqualified person if the person—
(a) is subject to a term of imprisonment
or detention, periodic or otherwise; or
(b) within 2 years before the day of nomination, has been convicted of an offence against the law of Queensland, another State or the Commonwealth and sentenced to more than 1 year's imprisonment; or
(c) has been convicted within 7 years before the day of nomination of an offence against the Criminal Code, section 59 or 60; or
(d) has been convicted within 10 years before the day of nomination of a disqualifying electoral offence; or
(e) has been convicted, and not pardoned, of treason, sedition or sabotage under the law of Queensland, another State or the Commonwealth; or
(f) is an undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction; or
(g) has executed a deed of arrangement as debtor under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), part X, or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction, and the terms of the deed have not been fully complied with; or
(h) has creditors who have accepted a composition under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), part X, or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction, and a final payment has not been made under that composition; or
(i) is not entitled to be a candidate for election, or to be elected as a member of the Assembly, under another law.
... Mr Katter said Mr Gordon should remain in Parliament until the judicial system takes its course.
"Everyone has been quick to jump all over him," Mr Katter told 612 ABC Brisbane.
"It is a poor reflection of his past but I also believe people are entitled to forgiveness.
"It has been abhorrent to me that other people have stayed in politics for the things they've done.
"I think people need to take a cold shower and let the judicial system take its course and see how things play out."
Armed robbery, Robina
QPS Media [31/3/15]:
Police are investigating the armed robbery of a service station in Robina early this morning.
Initial information suggests that just before 2am, a man has entered the service station on Ron Penhaligon Way and produced a gun.
The man has made threats and demanded cash from the attendant who has complied and handed over a sum of cash.
The man has then fled on foot from the service station.
The offender is described as Caucasian in appearance, approximately 175cm tall and was wearing a black hoodie with a black and white bandanna covering his face, black shorts and black and white shoes.
No one was physically injured as a result of the robbery. Investigations are continuing. Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Serious traffic crash, Belmont
QPS Media [30/3/15]:
Police investigating a serious traffic crash on the Gateway Motorway at Belmont this morning where two women were injured are appealing for public assistance with the matter.
Initial information indicates around 11.35am a blue 2002 Toyota Corolla was travelling south on the motorway when it left the roadway and rolled.
The incident occurred between the Old Cleveland Road exit and the Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Road exit.
The 58-year-old female driver and her 30-year-old female passenger were transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The crash caused delays on the motorway for several hours.
Investigators believe a second vehicle may have been involved and are appealing for anyone who may have seen the incident occur or events leading up to the crash to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
West Papuan Leaders meet solidarity groups in Brisbane
PNG Loop [30/3/15]:
West Papuan leaders of the newly formed United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), including Benny Wenda, Octovianus Mote and Rex Rumakiek, met in Brisbane over the weekend with Australian and some Aotearoa/New Zealand solidarity groups.
As their campaign for full membership for West Papua to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) gains momentum, the ULMWP met to strengthen campaign support for the July MSG meeting in Honiara, where the application for West Papuan membership will be considered.
The newly formed ULMWP is the coordinating body representing all organisations in the struggle for West Papuan self-determination as a unified front.
More than 40 delegates representing 13 West Papuan solidarity groups from across Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, met in Woollangabba, Brisbane, with the ULMWP to network, hear stories and develop resources for the campaign to gain full membership of the MSG for West Papua.
Benny Wenda, spokesperson for the ULMWP, said: “This gathering is very significant because this is where the people who have been behind us from the beginning of the campaign until today contribute their ideas.
“We cannot do this on our own, we need everyone to come together to bring West Papua back to the family of Melanesian countries in the Pacific”.
The solidarity groups meeting agreed on pursuing a coordinated strategy of activism with Pacific Island communities, Indigenous and church communities in the lead up to the July MSG meeting.
Mary Joku-Ponifasio, a West Papuan member of the New Zealand-based group Oceania Interrupted, said: “I encourage Pacific Island women to speak out for the women who are suffering in West Papua and be their voice. We Melanesian women are one family.”
“Australians and New Zealanders can play a vital role in supporting the Melanesian nations in standing up to the regional powers and moving to end the illegal occupation of West Papua.”
Peter Arndt, meeting co-organiser and representative of the West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane, said: “There is growing support for West Papua in our region, and it is vital for all the solidarity groups to work together to support the ULMWP’s efforts to achieve this important step towards freedom for West Papua.”
“There is now an opportunity to turn this support into concrete, effective action, by getting the MSG leaders to grant West Papua a voice at the table.”
Free West Papua Campaign [30/3/15]:
Today in Port Numbay/ Jayapura, West Papua.
Students protest against last weeks Indonesia security force shootings of civilians in Yahukimo.
Students solidarity action WEST PAPUA are taking action to demand an immediate investigation into Indonesian security forces shooting in Yahukimo last week.
Reveal the shooter on the civilian population in Yakuhimo.
Claims made are:
1. Indonesia immediately form an investigative team
2. Indonesia Police Mobile Brigade of Yakuhimo and Indonesia Police immediately responsible for the victim in Yakuhimo.
3. Indonesia open the peaceful democratic space in Yakuhimo for the people of West Papua
4. Local government districts of the Church in Yakuhimo immediately sit together solve the problem Yakuhimo
5. If the indonesia security force does not fulfill the guidance of students will sit at the Indonesia police office.
On 27th February 2015 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu met with West Papuan independence leader and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign, Benny Wenda, in Cape Town, South Africa. ... [Pacific Scoop - 18/3/15]
31 March 2015