Source says some asylum seekers have been moved from jail back to #Manus, some reportedly in Chauka, some in different compounds
Source says there are still 43 out of the 58 asylum seekers at Lorengau jail. #Manus
A source says there are approximately 15-20 asylum seekers in Chauka #Manus
Gas-lighting, the condition-precedent to violence
[lalegale - 27/1/15]
Chairman of "Australian group for the UNHCR" (and CEO Corrs Chambers Westgarth) awarded AO
No-one asks him about the plight of refugees on Manus Island?
What is the "Australian group for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees"? Is it the actual UNHCR, or is it just a franchise?
Sydney Morning Herald [261/15]:
Hyperactive lawyer John Denton is out of bed each day by 6am at the latest. He has to be, with all the hats he wears: governor of the Arts Centre, chairman of the Australian group for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, a board member of Teach for Australia, founding member of the Australia-China Chamber of CEO round table.
Denton, 54, whose "real job" is chief executive of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has been made an officer in the general division (AO) for his work in business and commerce, the arts and social welfare, and with refugees.
Denton helped set up the UNHCR's Australian support group 13 years ago to highlight the work of the commission and to increase fund-raising globally.
"We're in the midst of Syria at the moment, where there are around three million internally displaced people," he says. "Same mode in Iraq. And there's a huge humanitarian crisis in central Africa.
"We provide the continual funding to support refugee camps. Through the Australian people - and it is sometimes forgotten how generous they are - we have raised over $120 million so far. About $30 million a year now. It goes to support the operations in these desolate and desperate camps."
Denton says his eyes were opened to the plight of refugees when he was a young diplomat posted to Baghdad.
"I came across a bunch of asylum-seekers - mostly women, children and old people - struggling in fear at the border of Iraq and Jordan. I could not do anything to help. I had zero status."
Denton, who chaired a business meeting in November with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is well known in legal circles for his willingness to challenge convention. He "divides opinion", according to Lawyers Weekly magazine. Says Denton: "They say the best disguise for radicalism is a well-cut suit."
Denton is married to actor Jane Turner (aka TV's Kath Day-Knight), with whom he has three children.
Despite his heavy workload, Denton found time before Christmas to watch Turner play Margaret Thatcher in Rupert, in Sydney.
"I know I'm her husband, but she was absolutely electric on stage."
Tune to Out-FM Tuesday at 7pm as John Riley interviews Shane Bazzi, asylum seeker advocate and journalist about the humanitarian crisis facing refugees seeking asylum in Australia fleeing war, political, racial, and sexual orientation repression.
Bazzi also addresses the situation of gay refugees. Australia refuses to allow refugees to settle in Australia while shunting those that attempt to, to Papua New Guinea where homosexuality among men is a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Manus Island is like Guantanamo where torture, harassment and even murder occur by the authorities.
Emma Missouri brings us a commemoration of the liberation of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany occupied areas 7 decades ago.
The liberation included: Jews, communists, Roma people and LGBT people.
@profjmcadam [27/1/15]: High Court of Australia will hand down its judgment at 2.15pm tomorrow re detention at sea of 157 Tamil #asylumseekers ...
Candidate forum in Childers tonight
Isis Cultural Centre will host the final Bundaberg NewsMail candidate forum at 5.30pm tonight.
Four of the five candidates for Burnett have confirmed their attendance, with Greens candidate Colin Sheppard supplying prepared statements.
The 90-minute session, run in partnership with Childers Chamber of Commerce, is one of the last chances constituents have to put questions to the candidates before Saturday's election.
If you can't make it keep an eye for a wrap in tomorrow's NewsMail and a more detailed analysis in Thursday's Town & Country.
Dust storms lash Cloncurry
North West Star [27/1/15]:
Wind gusts of 85km/h lashed Cloncurry on Sunday night with the town’s dam resembling a windswept coastal beach.
Amazing photos of Chinaman Creek dam show dust storms in the sky and small waves, created by the strong winds.
There was also a quickfire shower of rain with 11.8 millimetres recorded in the town, with about 10 millimetres in 10 minutes just before 6pm.
Lake Julius scored much of the downpour with 38 millimetres recorded, mostly between 7.15pm and 9.30pm.
There was also wind gust of 82km/h at Lake Julius and Lake Moondarra also felt some of the wild storm with trees uprooted and blocking roads.
Richmond had an early Australia Day treat with 25.6 millimetres recorded, much of it hitting between 2am and 3am yesterday.
Georgetown Airport received 11 millimetres on Sunday.
Some showers are expected in the Gulf Country today and for the start of the weekend.
Mount Isa expected to be sunny for the rest of the week and into the weekend with temperatures in the high 30s.
A fire which broke containment lines in Perth's north has been upgraded to an emergency warning for those in the western part of Pinjar on Tuesday afternoon.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said in a 4.05pm alert the fire was now a threat to lives and homes and people in the area needed to act immediately to survive. ... [WA Today - 27/1/15]
Native title claim over Brisbane refused
A long-running native title claim over Brisbane has been rejected.
An application lodged in 1998 on behalf of the indigenous Turrbal people and a 2011 claim on behalf of the Yugara people were refused by the Federal Court on Tuesday.
The Yugara claim covered Brisbane and some bordering regions, while the Turrbal claim identified several discrete areas in the greater Brisbane region.
The applicants claimed native title on the basis of their descent from Aboriginal people who once lived in the area.
Their claims were combined in 2013 and the case was argued in the Federal Court in late 2013 and early 2014.
In a written judgement on Tuesday, Justice Christopher Jessup cited a lack of a continued, "uninterrupted" system of traditional laws to sustain the claimed rights.
He also found that under the traditional laws, no member of either claim group would be recognised as possessing rights to the land.
Armed robbery, Manly
QPS Media [27/1/15]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred in Manly this morning.
Around 7.30am, two men have entered a super market on Cambridge Parade armed with an axe and a sledge hammer.
One of the men has grabbed an employee and demanded cash, and they have then stolen the cash draw and then fled the scene.
They were last seen in a white Holden Commodore traveling along Stratton Terrace.
The female store attendant wasn’t physically injured as a result of the incident.
The two men were both last seen wearing grey pants, black hooded jumpers and had dark shirts over their faces. .
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.
Wavell Heights woman charged with trafficking and producing illegal steroids, police claim gang link [QPS Media - 27/1/15]
Human error thought to be behind hospital vaccine failure
Nine MSN [27/1/15]:
An initial investigation into a major bungle in one of Sydney's biggest hospitals has pointed to human error as the culprit.
Almost 600 new mothers and their babies are at risk of contracting deadly diseases after vaccinations were incorrectly stored at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
It is understood temperature changes of the fridge were logged every day, but the discrepancies weren't reported.
Today, RPA was forced to admit the refrigerator, used to store "life-saving" vaccines, had been faulty for more than a year.
It serviced the 8 East postnatal ward, with 570 mothers thought to have been affected.
Naomi Praeger is one such mother, who gave birth to her son Levi in August.
"I put my faith in them and I trust a hospital when I go to a hospital so I expect that they would actually do the procedures they're meant to," she said.
The thermostat inside the fridge was off by a few degrees.
There were several vaccines inside, including measles, mumps and rubella, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
It also held hepatitis B, which was given only to babies.
Women and babies who are affected will have to be revaccinated as a precaution, at a specialist clinic set up at Croydon Community Health Centre.
The hospital is adamant its other fridges are working properly.
An unhappy Health Minister today promised a wider investigation
"I have asked the ministry to conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether all our hospitals are compliant with medication storage protocols," Jillian Skinner said.
A clinical advisory line has been set up to provide women with information - that number is 1800 300 243.
Fatal traffic crash, Shailer Park
QPS Media [27/1/15]:
Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred in Shailer Park last night.
Initial investigations indicate the crash occurred around 9pm on Kimberley Drive between the intersection of Billiluna Street and Chatswood Road.
The motorcycle was travelling west along Kimberely Drive when it has veered into the medium strip and crashed into a tree.
The rider a 36-year-old Shailer Park man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the crash or the Honda motorcycle travelling along Kimberely Road to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
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.
Dandenong factory pay dispute escalates to lock-in
The Age [27/1/15]:
Dozens of workers have locked themselves inside a factory in Melbourne's east and are refusing to leave after negotiations over a new pay deal broke down.
Employees of International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF), which makes flavours for Smiths Chips, Coca-Cola and Lion Food & Dairy, arrived at work early on Tuesday morning expecting to start protected industrial action. But the company locked them out, citing food safety concerns.
About 50 employees then ran inside the factory when they saw the gates were shutting at the start of their morning shift, according to union members. They have been locked in the lunchroom since 6am.
A spokeswoman for IFF said the company had to lock out workers because their protected industrial action put food safety at risk.
"Food safety was compromised as a result of the union invoking paper work bans. This morning we did have to enact a lock out to protect the qualify and safety of our product," the spokeswoman said.
The Fair Work Commission had escalated the matter and would hold urgent conciliation at 5.30pm on Tuesday, she added.
National Union of Workers' delegate Arthur Ingles said the employees were protesting against what they felt were unreasonable cuts to their conditions by IFF, which is one of the biggest flavouring companies in the world and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
"We will stay until we are able to negotiate a reasonable outcome with the company," Mr Ingles told Fairfax Media this afternoon. The workers were prepared to do "whatever it takes", he said.
The new offer from IFF management was a "gutting of conditions" Mr Ingles said.
The company had offered a 55c per hour pay increase, equivalent to a 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent pay increase, he added.
Employees were particularly concerned about plans to remove a clause paying out unused personal leave when an employee left the company and to scrap one of two paid 10-minute breaks a day, he said. Some employees had accrued significant amounts of leave, union organiser Dominic Melling said.
The union said employees were willing to negotiate on a $50 a day bonus for unused sick days, capped at $500 a year.
Employees trapped inside the factory, and supporters outside, have been tweeting photos and comments about the lock-in under #occupydandenong. The IFF spokeswoman said "employee well-being needs are being taken care of" and that supplies to IFF customers had not been disrupted.
There were 56 unionised employees at the IFF factory, according to a recent ballot by the Fair Work Commission.
Boycott of Gladstone servos organised for next week
Gladstone Observer [27/1/15]:
Another day to boycott service stations in Gladstone that have high fuel prices is being organised for February 6.
A group of local residents is organising the boycott, saying motorists were getting ripped off.
They have declared Friday, February 6 as No Fuel in Gladstone Day.
They are encouraging motorists to buy their fuel at service stations in Boyne Island, Benaraby and Calliope that consistently offer lower prices.
A similar push was organised in December, resulting in more business for the Boyne Island BP.
Owner Col Taylor late last month said people were still making the drive to Boyne Island for fill up, with the servo having a 50-60% increase in the volume of fuel usually sold at that time of year.
Unleaded petrol at Boyne Island BP was $1.10 per litre on Sunday, with diesel at $1.18.
A Facebook page promoting the boycott has been set up here.
Residents can keep an eye on local fuel prices and share information at the Gladstone Fuel Watch Facebook page.
Iconic Toowoomba restaurant closes its doors
Weis Restaurant has announced it will close after 46 years of operation, blaming council's decision to reject its application for a marquee.
Restaurant owner John Pohlman said economic factors, combined with a recent Toowoomba Regional Council decision to reject an application for a permanent functions marquee contributed to the decision.
The restaurant will close its doors on March 1.
Mr Pohlman said the iconic restaurant was closing, and not being liquidated. All creditors would be paid.
He also said vouchers and gift cards would be honoured or refunded and all staff entitlements would be met.
"We want to sincerely thank our loyal customers, staff and friends who have supported us over many years of trading. Without them, we would have closed years ago," he said.
Mr Pohlman said it was a sad decision from a family point of view.
He said the council decision was the straw the broke the camel's back.
"We didn't want to close it, but the council decision hurt us and any food business needs functions. If we don't have them, it's too hard."
Mr Pohlman said he had promised everyone who had booked that their events would go ahead, even if they were after the closing date of March 1.
He said the restaurant had been on the market for "a few years", and that there were people looking at buying.
"Whether that's just for the land or to build something here, I'm not sure," he said.
Mr Pohlman plans to work for Pohlmans Nursery after the closure.
Regular customer Edie Brown was celebrating her 88th birthday at the restaurant when she heard the news.
She was saddened to learn that her favourite restaurant would be closing down.
"I was disappointed with the council making them close that marquee down in the first place," she said.
Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said council was saddened to hear of the impending closure of the restaurant which has been one of Toowoomba's best known restaurants for many decades.
"Council has remained willing to discuss reasonable options for the owners to operate a function centre on the site," he said.
Toowoomba residents rally support for Islamic community after mosque fire-bombing bid
About 100 people have gathered to show their support for Toowoomba's Islamic community after the attempted fire-bombing of a mosque in the southern Queensland city.
Police have released closed-circuit TV footage of a man they believe can help their inquiry into Friday night's attack.
He tried to ignite gas in an adjoining building but caused only minor damage.
Neighbour Mark Copland, who spoke at the rally, said the Toowoomba community was appalled at the attack.
"Although this is an isolated attack, it's an attack on everybody," he said.
"It's not just this place, there have been other places of worship have been attacked, so I guess now we all stand together saying that this was not done in our name."
A spokesman for Toowoomba's Muslim community, Shahjahan Khan, said the mosque had always had the backing of the wider Toowoomba community.
"So I really support the concern of the wider community, they have been doing that for a long time and we hope to work together to [make] Toowoomba even a stronger, peaceful and harmonious society," he said.
Mosque arson attack denounced by show of solidarity [Chronicle – 27/1/15]
Australian foreign minister plays down aid cuts on Afghan visit
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, visited Kabul on Monday to spend Australia Day with Australian troops in the country and to reassure the new Afghan government of her country’s continued commitment.
“We believe in the Afghan people. We believe in their right to live in a stable, secure and prosperous environment,” she said in a press briefing at the Australian embassy in Kabul.
In her brief visit, Bishop met the president, Ashraf Ghani, and his chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and participated in a roundtable talk with women’s rights advocates and female parliamentarians.
“Over the past 10 years or more we have seen extraordinary gains in opportunities for women – in education, in health, in the number of women who are able to participate in society,” Bishop said.
The minister’s pledges of continued support come on the back of significant cuts to Australia’s aid budget, including to Afghanistan.
Last year, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia said a drop in aid to his country could force more Afghans to flee to Australia by boat. Australia’s policy of processing asylum seekers offshore has caused hundreds of refugees to be detained in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where authorities are widely accused of human rights abuses.
Recently, Afghan Hazara asylum seekers have been forcibly deported from mainland Australia. Upon returning to Afghanistan, at least one has been attacked by Taliban fighters.
Asked whether she considered Afghanistan a safe place to deport Afghan refugees to, Bishop told the Guardian: “Well, I came here. We have Australians living here. We have contractors here. We have confidence in the Afghan government’s ability and that of its security forces to make this place secure.”
The Australian government advises its citizens against all travel to Afghanistan, but Bishop rejected the implication that her government’s policies were contradictory.
“We have travel advisories for most countries around the world,” she said. “They are not legislative, enforced statements, they are travel advisories.”
Bishop was the second high-ranking Australian official to visit Ghani since his election last year, after the governor-general Peter Cosgrove visited in October. Bishop last visited Afghanistan in 2009 as shadow foreign minister.
Afghanistan: Unidentified gunmen kill 2 brothers in Nangarhar
Unidentified gunmen on Tuesday gunned down two brothers in the Kot district of eastern Nangarhar province, the governor’s spokesman said.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai told Pajhwok Afghan News gunmen sprayed the pair with bullets in Jatu Kala locality of the district in front of their home.
The slain brothers, Muhammad Zamin and Malik Muhammad Amin---a leading tribal elder--- had no personal enmity in the area and both had good reputation among people.
Police, he said had started investigation to nab the killers.
Two ANA Soldiers Killed in Faryab Roadside Mine Blast [TOLOnews.com - 27/1/15]:
Two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed in a roadside mine blast in northern Faryab province on Tuesday, according to military officials.
Three other ANA soldiers were injured in the blast.
The incident took place on Almar-Qaisar highway after their vehicle struck a roadside mine, killing the two soldiers on impact, the 209th Shaheen Corp said.
No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.
An asylum seeker has told me that the hunger strike on #Manus is over. Foxtrot was the final compound and they have now ended their strike.
"tweeted" by @shanebazzi [27/1/15]
Watch the Australian human rights establishment suddenly find their voices - but not to call for the UN, lawyers, Human Rights Commissioner AND journalists to have access to the refugees, or to ask what has become of the men who were beaten, or reiterate calls to close the camps.
Expect the usual partisan, handwringing and opinionating.
Hunger strike ends in PNG's Manus Island, still [RNZI – 27/1/15]
A hunger strike on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has ended, after a 13-day protest of Australia's immigration policies keeping asylum seekers locked up.
Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition, says the asylum seekers in Mike compound should be eating again this evening, after they called off the protest, in reaction to security guards entering a nearby compound and making arrests.
Mr Rintoul says Wilsons Security had flown reinforcements to the island on Sunday afternoon, and began raids on the Foxtrot compound, herding asylum seekers into the gymnasium area.
Mr Rintoul says the Australian government must halt any plan to force refugees into temporary housing, and address the fact that there are no arrangements for safe resettlement in PNG.
Who will put an end to the atrocities and liberate the refugees from Australia's concentration camps? [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Media Release - 26/1/15]:
Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to all those attending the requiem held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The President said, in particular, in his message:
“The Holocaust was one of the most tragic and shameful pages in human history. Millions of innocent people fell victim to the Nazis, went through the hell of the death camps and were shot, tortured, and died from hunger and disease. The Red Army put an end to these atrocities and this ruthless barbarity and saved not just the Jewish people but also the other peoples of Europe and the world.
We must always remember firmly that any attempts to rewrite history and our country’s contribution to the great victory would be tantamount to justifying Nazism’s crimes and would open the door to the re-emergence of this deadly ideology. Forgetting the lessons of our common past could lead to a repeat of these terrible tragedies. It is therefore our duty to defend the truth about the events of World War II and stand up for the achievements, dignity, and good name of the living and the fallen.
This is our duty and a matter of honour before the generations to come.”
"How many deaths does it take?"
Refugees protest on Nauru on Australia Day.
Image: @KarlMathiesen - journalist, Guardian [27/1/15]
Protest in Boston to shut down Australia's off-shore detention centre on Manus Island #shutdownmanus
Image: @juliadehm [26/1/15]
@juliadehm [26/1/15]: Solidarity and support to detainees on Manus Island from the Boston #shutdownmanus
Former Australian Prime Minister - @MrKRudd [26/1/15]: Just gave Oz Day address here in Boston to a bunch of Australians in the middle of a blizzard. Snowballs always handy
Refugee resettlement is not possible without the participation of the United Nations.
These men have been exiled.
The ABC - and other Australian media outlets- are also ignoring the recommendations of last year's Senate Inquiry i.e. that the United Nations, Human Rights Commissioner, lawyers and journalists should have access to the refugees on Manus Island.
The ABC refuse to hold the IOM and Minister for Immigration to account.
They are protecting those responsible for committing human rights atrocities in the name of the Australian people.
@abc730 MT @Liam_Cochrane: On #abc730 tonight, my story on prospects for #Manus refugees resettling in #PNG + @leighsales with PNG PM Peter O'Neill [27/1/15]
United States Memorial Memorial Museum:
...Theresienstadt served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor. Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations. ...
Where are these men? Are they still alive? ----> "We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us"
United States and "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Jan. 25, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 21 airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 25, and 8 a.m., Jan. 26, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
• Near Al Qaim, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored vehicles.
• Near Ar Raqqah, two airstrikes destroyed six ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL vehicle.
• Near Dayr az Zawr, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.
• Near Kobani, 17 airstrikes struck 14 ISIL tactical units, a large ISIL unit, and two ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL staging area.
• Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
• Near Haditha, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
• Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL bunkers, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL armored vehicle.
• Near Tal Afar, seven airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed three ISIL mortar firing positions, three ISIL VBIEDs, eight ISIL armored vehicles, an ISIL checkpoint, 15 ISIL vehicles, and three ISIL fighting positions.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Al Jazeera [27/1/15]:
A former CIA officer who allegedly shared secrets with a New York Times reporter about the US effort to disrupt the Iranian nuclear programme has been convicted on espionage charges.
Jeffrey Sterling on Monday was found guilty on nine counts for disclosing classified information in a US court in Alexandria, Virginia in a case seen as a prime example of the Obama administrations efforts to go after whistleblowers. ...
Argentina to dissolve intelligence agency [Al Jazeera - 27/1/15]
Israel Dismisses 43 Soldiers who Refused to Serve [Naharnet - 26/1/15]:
The Israeli military has dismissed 43 reserve soldiers from its most prestigious intelligence unit after they publicly denounced abuses committed against Palestinians, army radio said Monday.
In a letter published by Israeli media in September, the 43 reservists who belonged to the spying unit said they refused to serve in order to avoid participating in injustices carried out against the Palestinians.
The 8200 unit that they belonged to specializes in cyber defense.
The soldiers, who are made up of both men and women, said they refused to "continue serving the system which affects the rights of millions of people."
They also criticized the "political persecution" their spying activities involved.
LRA commander Dominic Ongwen appears before ICC in The Hague [BBC - 26/1/15]
Auschwitz survivors remember day of liberation on 70 year anniversary [ABC - 27/1/15]
Hundreds of people are attending ceremonies throughout New Zealand today to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. ... [RNZI - 27/1/15]
British media continues reports on Manus ---> Manus Island hunger strike continues, Theresienstadtesque charade of "good" refugees being released deemed sufficient information for ABC consumers for today [Guardian - 27/1/15]
Welfare of beaten, "arrested" men unknown.
Whether refugees have access to proper medical care, lawyers or the United Nations also unknown, unasked, unremarked upon.
On Friday @abc730′s online producer contacted me. I gave them info about #Manus and told them I have a source who wants to speak to them.
I was told their interview producer would contact me. I am still waiting to hear from them.
Palmer United Party to refer Ray Stevens to Senate Inquiry
PUP Media Release [27/1/15]:
The Palmer United Party will refer controversial Queensland LNP parliamentarian Ray Stevens to the Senate Inquiry into the activities of the Newman Government, says the party’s federal leader and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer.
Mr Palmer said the role of Mr Stevens, the Government Leader of the House and MP for the Gold Coast seat of Mermaid Beach, with a proposed cableway project in the Gold Coast Hinterland had a “serious toxic stench”.
“The Palmer United Party will be referring the Ray Stevens matter to the ongoing Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government headed by our Senate leader and Senator for Queensland, Senator Glenn Lazarus,” Mr Palmer said.
“How can Mr Stevens be an investor and advisor to this controversial Gold Coast project while being a local Member of Parliament and leader of the Government in state parliament?
“This seems a clear conflict of interest yet Campbell Newman has thrown his support behind Mr Stevens and says the Integrity Commissioner has given him the all clear.
“It looks like a blatant favour to Mr Stevens, a former Gold Coast Mayor who behaved disgracefully when questioned about this serious issue by the media this week.
“The Stevens saga is a typical example of the Newman government doing favours for mates.
“But the Palmer United Party is determined to pursue this matter further at the Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government. It’s time to put an end to this rubbish.”
Mr Palmer said the voters of Mermaid Beach also had the opportunity on January 31 to take action against Mr Stevens.
“The people of Mermaid Beach have the chance to replace Ray Stevens with the Palmer United Party’s Alex Caraco, a man of honour and integrity,” he said.
Mr Palmer said the Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government was playing a key role in addressing public concerns about the Government’s activities and decisions.
“There is no Upper House in Queensland and therefore the role of the senators in investigating the Newman Government is crucial for ensuring accountability,” he said.
The Senate Inquiry public hearing scheduled for 28 January in Bundaberg appears to have been cancelled.
The next public hearings are as follows:
4 Feb 2015 Townsville
5 Feb 2015 Cairns
19 Feb 2015 Chinchilla
... “The real story behind Mr Newman calling the election during the vacation period is that Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald sought earlier this week to have a meeting to disband the Senate Inquiry while its chairman Senator Glenn Lazarus was on holidays in the United States,” Mr Palmer said. ... [PUP Media Release - 12/1/15]
Traitors work very hard to ensure that the access of Australian citizens to any shred of a democratic process is stifled.
"Put the LNP last" = a vote for the ALP
Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting - this means you don't have to give a vote to either major party if you don't want to.
Mining Scorecard: Independents and Minor Parties Stand Up for Land and Water [Lock The Gate - 27/1/15]:
The results are in on Lock the Gate Alliance’s candidates’ survey for the Queensland State Election - with the independents and minor parties blitzing the field and leaving the two major parties in their wake when it came to protecting land and water from unsafe mining.
Lock the Gate’s President, Drew Hutton, said the survey showed that the LNP was completely out of touch with community sentiment on mining in rural and regional areas, and that the ALP still had a long way to go, even though it had promised to reverse some of the LNP's worst policy excesses.
Lock the Gate surveyed each of the parties for their policies on coal and gas mining, and also surveyed independent candidates in a number of key electorates.
The survey included questions on people’s rights to object to mining, the protection of farmland and water and the need for clean politics. The full survey can be viewed here.
"The parties that scored extremely well included the Katter Australia Party, the Greens and the Palmer United Party - who all have a record of taking action in either state or Federal Parliament on this issue - plus One Nation," said Drew Hutton, president of Lock the Gate Alliance.
"The independents also scored very highly on the report. Independents such as Peter Wellington in Nicklin, Alex Douglas in Gaven, and Carl Judge in Yeerongpilly have been the sole courageous voices of opposition in the Queensland Parliament to the State Government's capitulation to the mining industry.
"Along with Ray Hopper, who is running for the Katter Australia Party this election, they have been the conscience of the Queensland Parliament when it comes to protecting land and water.
"Whilst not holding any seats in the Queensland Parliament, the Greens have been the most active of the parties in extra-parliamentary campaigning."
Mr Hutton said the ABC Vote Compass showed 85 per cent of respondents from both the city and country areas agreed that ‘Landowners should be able to prevent mining companies from operating on their property’.
“The LNP is completely out-of-step with its constituents on so many levels, and the ALP, while having improved somewhat, is still a long way off the mark,” he said.
“It’s about time they started listening to the people, rather than the mining companies.”
Mr Hutton said the ALP had promised to commission a cumulative water balance for the Galilee Basin coal mines prior to any construction, and to reverse the LNP policies of giving unlimited water to coal miners for free and removing community appeal rights.
He said a commitment to a departmental study into the mismanagement of Gladstone Harbour was also a good thing, but it should be upgraded to a properly independent investigation.
“But the ALP has a long way to go on protecting Queenslanders from coal seam gas and mining compared to the minor parties and independents,” Mr Hutton said.
"Prior to the election, we'd like to see the ALP unambiguously commit to overturning the Acland coal mine expansion and to fully protecting Strategic Cropping Land from coal mining and coal seam gas with a strict prohibition.
“The LNP didn’t bother responding to this survey, which reveals the extraordinary contempt they have for community concerns on this issue. We can only assume they will continue putting land, water and human health at risk with their reckless mining policies if they are re-elected.
"We're encouraging people to vote for change this election, because it is desperately needed, and to be informed by our scorecard when they cast their vote by numbering every box." <--- This is BULLSHIT. You do not have to give preferences to the major parties. For example, you can vote 1 Greens, then 2 Palmer or 1 Katter and 2 an independent and leave it at that.
Golden Guitar winner Luke O'Shea and father in Maules Creek protest [Lock The Gate Media Release – 27/1/15]
Funnily enough, the former Prime Minster didn't tweet a picture of the people outside (in the blizzard) holding a vigil in solidarity with the refugees on Manus:
@MrKRudd: Happy Oz Day from Harvard guys. Hope the beach is good A brisk 0 degrees here Speaking OZ Day Reception tonight KRudd
American Australian Association:
Australia Day Boston Dinner
An expertly crafted Australian inspired food and wine menu will showcase the quality of Australian products.
Members $165 | Non Members $185
Gold $5,500 | Silver $3,500
Kevin Rudd: Amid Tensions, Asia Needs More Robust Regional Institutions [Asia Society - 23/1/15]
Viewpoint: Students should act against human rights abuse on Manus Island [USA Today - 26/1/15]:
On Jan. 26, while Australians celebrated Australia Day — honoring the 1788 arrival of British ships and the hoisting of the flag of Great Britian — asylum seekers denied refuge in the same land languished in a detention facility on Manus Island.
Students everywhere should demand an end to this blatant violation of human rights.
The trouble began this month when the Australian government denied entry to a group of refugees and detained them on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Battered by guards and ignored by Australian immigration authorities, some 700 detainees have launched hunger strikes. At least two others attempted suicide.
Strikers protested the government’s plan to resettle them in a major city in Papua New Guinea.
They feared they would be killed if forced to move there.
Australian doctors warned that the Manus Island facilities lacked the resources to cope with such a large hunger strike.
Undoubtedly, many of the strikers know medical care is out of reach. They are so desperate that they would face death over resettlement or continued detention.
That’s because the situation is riddled with human rights violations.
Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton has shown a lack of responsibility and oversight of the detention facilities. On Manus, photos are forbidden, timelines for release are nonexistent and hope for the refugees is dwindling.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government continues to defend its hardline policy while in the camps illness, violence and unrest escalate.
The most notorious of the Manus Island compounds is the Chauka solitary confinement unit. Two men sent to Chauka claimed they were tied to chairs and beaten.
The government’s decision to detain asylum seekers cannot even be justified in purely economic terms. It costs more to house an asylum seeker on Manus Island for one day than to put them up for a night in a five-star Sydney hotel.
The government’s actions contradict pivotal decisions in Australia’s immigration history.
During World War II, German Jews fleeing persecution were admitted (though some were interned in camps). During the Vietnam War, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser allowed more than 2,000 “boat people” to resettle in Australia.
The turning point for immigration —when many refugees were confined in offshore processing centers — did not come until 2001, the year of the “Pacific Solution.”
That year, the Australian government built Manus Island and other offshore processing sites so it could deal with asylum seekers outside the boundaries of Australian law.
The government said the new facilities were aimed at discouraging people from making dangerous ocean voyages, but human rights groups criticized the move.
Students can help the Manus detainees by organizing and signing international petitions to shut down Manus Island.
Amnesty International makes available posters and logos to promote the campaign in schools and on social media. Many schools offer local chapters for Amnesty International or other human rights groups opposed to Manus Island detention.
The Manus Island detention facilities are so in defiance of basic human rights conventions that concern for the refugees’ welfare should penetrate national borders.
Petition to end the Manus Island abuses before it’s too late.
Caleb Diehl is a student at Lewis & Clark College and a spring 2015 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.
Transcript of joint press conference with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill: Brisbane: 19 July 2013: Regional "Resettlement" Arrangement
“We need to be their voice!”
Adelaide politician, mother of 3 begins hunger strike in solidarity with Manus refugees [Media Release - 26/1/15]:
The State President of the Australian Democrats, Jeanie Walker, mother of 3, will tonight begin a hunger strike in sympathy with the Manus Island asylum seekers who are on the twelfth day of their hunger strike today.
She is planning on continuing until Saturday the 31st January unless the government responds to calls for onshore processing of those currently on Manus.
Manus Island Detention Centre needs to be shut down!
Ms Walker has symbolically chosen Australian Day to begin her hunger strike to show her distress at the way the Australian government are treating genuine refugees in offshore processing facilities.
Ms Walker is passionate about the plight of refugees and has been hosting asylum seekers (some on bridging visas and some who have not been successful in gaining one) in her own home for three years, and has worked with them to become part of the local community.
“It's wrong of our government to take such a hardline approach towards people fleeing war and torture in their country of origin. They deserve our attention and assistance, not the current policies of persecution and I want to highlight this.
“My feeling of utter hopelessness and frustration with our cruel offshore processing policies has led me to the point where I can no longer stand by and watch this tragic story unfolding.
“With reports of asylum seekers sewing their mouths together, swallowing razor blades and eating washing powder, it is time for Australians everywhere to stand up and be counted and let our politicians know loud and clear that we won't be responsible for this pain and suffering in our name.
“The Australian name is being tarnished on the world stage by a government acting in a manner that is totally devoid of compassion or moral responsibility.
“My hunger strike aims to draw attention to their plight, and will provide a more local experience of what it must be like for them.
“My intention of course is not to starve to death but to share the suffering of so many on Manus Island. I have the luxury of being able to end it if and when my health starts to decline - these asylum seekers cannot. Their actions are necessitated by our government’s intransigence.
“We need to be their voice!” said Ms Walker.
Men on #Manus have had their sheets on which they wrote "Freedom" confiscated.
"tweeted" by @KayeWinnell [27/1/15]
Suspend all disbelief before reading/watching this puff piece that lets Dutton, the IOM and Department of Immigration off the hook ---> Exiled refugee happy, admonishes bad hunger strikers calling for the UN [ABC - 27/1/15]
Evidently the ABC edited out footage of the IOM and Department of Immigration chaperones.
source told me that the 2 refugees who moved from #Manus to East Lorengau transit centre on Wed requested to come back. Request was denied.
Source says the 2 refugees were told that @DIBPAustralia is no longer responsible for them and they won’t see them again. #Manus
Source says @DIBPAustralia told the refugees that whatever they are requesting will now have to be put to PNG staff or police. #Manus
@shanebazzi [25/1/15] Refugee says they have not been given any timeframe for resettlement in PNG.
@shanebazzi [25/1/15] Photos from the East Lorengau refugee transit centre
27 January 2015