Friday, December 08, 2006


Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says she'll stand for Parliament at the next federal election. She didn't say whether she would run for the lower house or Senate. Asked why she wanted to return to politics, the former federal MP for the Queensland seat of Oxley said, "Why not". "I feel I want to have another go at it, and I'm putting my hat in the ring for the next federal election," she told the Ten Network news.

Ms Hanson said: "It's up to the people of Queensland, or wherever I decide to stand, to decide whether they want me to have a voice in parliament for them". "And you know what, they feel they haven't got a voice and someone out there asking questions on their behalf. "So I have every right to stand for parliament, like any other Australian, and I'm raising my issues, I'm raising my concerns. "So it's up to the people."

Earlier yesterday, a decade after warning Australia was being swamped by Asians, the right-wing firebrand voiced concerns about Muslims and said diseased Africans should be barred from the country. Last night, she said the main issues she would be campaigning on were the industrial relations laws and the nation's water crisis. "I've been on about water for many, many years - but also immigration," she said.

"Why shouldn't Australians know that the people we bring in to this country are there for the right reasons, and we bring them in for the right reasons? "Why do we have to bring people in who are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, who are going to take away our way of life, change our laws? "And I'm asking these questions. And it's about time someone dam well did, because the federal government is not addressing the concerns of the Australian people."

Ms Hanson earlier said she was concerned by the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there's a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they've got AIDS," Ms Hanson said. "They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, they'll never be able to work. "And what my main concern is, is the diseases that they're bringing in and yet no one is saying or doing anything about it." A Department of Immigration spokeswoman rejected the claims, saying stringent health checks were carried out on all permanent and temporary residents.

Refugee groups were angered by Ms Hanson's comments, calling them "fanciful", damaging and hurtful to Africans who were simply trying for a life in Australia. But Ms Hanson said politicians had gone too far in affording rights to minority groups and she was angered at the loss of Australian traditions because of Muslims. "Our governments have bent over backwards to look after them (Muslims) and their needs, and regardless of what the Australian people think," she said. "You can't have schools not sing Christmas carols because it upsets others, you can't close swimming baths because Muslim women want to swim in private, that's not Australian. "Surely, can't we look at what's happened in other countries around the world with the increase in Muslims that are there ...?"

Ms Hanson also objects to the Howard Government's industrial relations laws, and said she had been encouraged to consider re-entering politics by the public who wanted her to represent the average "Joe". Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said that although he disagreed with Ms Hanson's ideas, he supported her democratic right to run. Ms Hanson failed to win re-election to parliament in 1998 and unsuccessfully stood for the Senate in Queensland three years later.

She served a short stint in a Queensland prison for electoral fraud in 2003 before the charges were overturned. She again tried a comeback in 2004, standing as an independent for the Senate, but failed to win a seat. However, she was awarded almost $190,000 funding from the Australian Electoral Commission after earning more than four per cent of the primary vote. Ms Hanson says she plans to release a book early next year about her political life and time in jail.


Vile legal barriers to the truth about fatherhood

For those who can, having a child is probably the most important thing they will ever do in their life. Quite rightly, myriad laws impose legal and financial obligations on parents.

The public reaction to the recent case of Magill v Magill has rightly centred on the need to remove any obstacles preventing an alleged parent from ascertaining whether they are the parent of a child. In an era of unobtrusive DNA testing, common sense should prevail to allow an alleged parent the automatic right to have access to modern technology to ascertain the parentage of a child.

Currently, an alleged father's obligation to pay child support and the distribution of assets following a family break-up is determined by reference to various factors, including the number of their children. If alleged fathers can have DNA testing as early as possible, it may avoid unnecessary emotional trauma and a man being required to make payments under a mistake. At present, where DNA testing proves a child was not fathered by the man alleged, judicial discretion can still prevent him from later recovering child support and other amounts mistakenly paid or given over.

Under the present system, a mother can place an obstacle in the path of an alleged father by not giving her consent for a DNA test. The mother should not be permitted to hinder the process because she will often have a vested interest in seeking to prevent the DNA testing. Recent cases have shown there is reluctance on the part of judges to grant men permission for DNA testing. This is often under the justification that it is not in the best interests of the child to ascertain with certainty who the father of the child is.

This logic is totally flawed. There can be no doubt it is in a child's interest to know who their biological parents are. It is an essential part of any person's identity. The case of Magill v Magill has not only excluded men, who have been deceived about parentage from suing a former partner for such deceit, it goes further. The no-fault provisions of divorce would appear to have been used to justify permitting a man to be deceived and continue to be deceived as to paternity. Non-disclosure of adultery should not be held more important than prevention of emotional and financial damage inflicted upon a man who has been deceived into believing he is the father of a child. There are no consequences for a woman deceiving a man in such a cruel way.

This approach will only encourage the Family Court to be even more reluctant to exercise its discretion to allow an alleged father access to DNA testing. It has even been put to me that if we allow alleged fathers to have such easy access to DNA testing, they will not be liable to pay child support and the Government will have to pick up the bill. This of all the arguments is the most morally bankrupt. A government should not shift the cost of raising a child on to a man just because he had a relationship with, or was married to a woman, who had a child that was not his.

Having said that, if DNA testing were readily available, I suspect a significant majority of alleged fathers would choose not to access it and that would be their choice. It's time for the relevant laws to be changed to reflect fairness and common sense.


No one is served by covering up Islamic outrages

An editorial from "The Australian" below

It is precisely because the act was so stupid that level heads need to be kept about what happened last week during a school expedition run by Melbourne's East Preston Islamic College. According to a report of the incident filed by the school, a group of teenage Muslim boys on the outing defiled a Bible by urinating on it, spitting on it, tearing its pages and setting it alight. The boys involved have, appropriately, been expelled, and it is hoped they will grow up to be responsible Australian citizens who will look back and be horrified at the actions of their youth. Far more pressing is the need to root out the climate of intolerance described by non-Muslim teachers at the school, an atmosphere fostered by radical videos shown to students at the college that describe Australian Christians as "evil people". Here it is clear the school's principal, Shaheem Doutie, needs to do much more to prevent students from graduating into the wider community with such attitudes.

This incident once again focuses attention on the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic communities in Australia, and the media's role in covering conflicts between the two groups. The issue came up last October when this newspaper reported that Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque and Australia's senior Muslim spiritual leader, had delivered a rambling sermon which, among other things, suggested that if women walk the streets like "uncovered meat" they have only themselves to blame if they are sexually assaulted. The report had several effects. On the plus side, it gave Australia's moderate Muslims a chance to stand with the wider community and condemn the sort of retrograde thinking demonstrated by Sheik Hilali. This is something we would like to see happen again in the case of East Preston Islamic College.

But the reporting on Sheik Hilali also flushed out a number of people who were horrified by The Australian's coverage, and who wished the whole story would go away. Chief among them was self-styled Muslim advocate Irfan Yusuf, a young lawyer of Pakistani extraction, who accused this newspaper of committing an "editorial lynching" of the sheik in its news and opinion pages. This is simplistic thinking. Rather than condemn the newspaper, Mr Yusuf should have put his shrewd legal mind to work considering whether he would really prefer to let intolerant attitudes fester in the shadows before exploding and catching Australia unawares, as has happened in countries such as England, Denmark, Spain and The Netherlands. A far more responsible and thoughtful sort of thinking was demonstrated by the likes of Waleed Ali and Tanveer Ahmed, two Australian Muslims who saw the publicity surrounding Sheik Hilali's offensive statements as a chance to promote their own thoughtful messages about the need for Islam to modernise to remain relevant. Likewise, the reporting of the desecration of a Bible by Muslim students presents another opportunity for moderate Muslims to condemn extremists and point the way forward.

By its very nature, Australian society rejects the sort of intolerance demonstrated by Sheik Hilali and the EPIC students, and revels in deflating fundamentalisms of all stripes. A perfect example is this weekend's "Great Australian Bikini March", in which women are being urged to parade past the Lakemba Mosque in swimwear to protest against Sheik Hilali's comments. Lebanese Muslim Association president Tom Zreik has been quoted as describing the plan as "hilarious", showing he has the right idea. The more of this attitude, and the more light shone on extremists in Australia's Muslim community, the better.


The Australian Immigration bureaucracy at work

A one-year-old Australian boy was detained for seven months after immigration officials failed to check his citizenship. Another, aged four months, was held in detention for 149 days before authorities accepted his birth certificate as genuine. The cases are among 20 new wrongful detentions identified yesterday by the Commonwealth ombudsman.

In a series of damning reports, the ombudsman found some immigration officers did not understand citizenship and immigration laws. Others failed to realise that children could hold different citizenship to their parents, ombudsman John McMillan said.

The highly publicised cases of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez triggered investigations into 247 immigration detention cases. Ten of the cases checked involve mentally ill people being put in detention, despite being Australian citizens or lawful visa holders. Several of those wrongfully detained are seeking compensation from the Federal Government, including mentally ill man, "Mr G". A permanent resident born in East Timor, he was detained for 43 days.

Of the 10 children wrongfully detained, eight were Australian citizens or lawful visa holders. One-year-old "GN" was detained in Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre in 2002 for 214 days. Prof McMillan found immigration officers did not interview GN's mother until three weeks after the family's detention, and it took another six weeks before authorities acknowledged he was an Australian citizen. The boy was then kept in detention for another five months as a "visitor" with his mother. Four-month-old "LP" was held at a residential unit at the Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia until authorities accepted his birth certificate and citizenship.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the Government had already overhauled the immigration system to avoid similar problems. The overhaul included keeping children out of detention centres except as a last resort. "They're not happy stories, I understand that," she said. "But I want to emphasise that I'm pleased they've been dealt with, and particularly pleased with the acknowledgment from the Ombudsman of how much has already been done in terms of repairing things that need to be repaired and upgrading things that needed to be upgraded." She said no immigration officers would be punished over the detention cases. [Why not??]


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