Friday, May 06, 2011


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on the "Osama is not dead" doubts

"Asylum seekers" to be sent to Papua New Guinea?

AUSTRALIA could end up sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea, as the Gillard Government ramps up desperate efforts to find a regional solution to the influx of boat arrivals.

Speculation is mounting that the Government may strike a deal with PNG to reopen the Manus Island detention centre, after it confirmed last night that Immigration Department head Andrew Metcalfe had visited the country earlier this week.

Manus Island, located hundreds of kilometres off the northeast coast of PNG, housed refugees under the Howard government. The facilities have been mothballed for years.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen are desperate to find a solution to the unending flow of asylum seekers who are risking their lives coming to Australia by boat.

Before last year's election the government announced it would negotiate with East Timor to host a regional processing centre there.

Dubbed the "Dili Solution", the policy proved anything but, as negotiations failed.

According to a spokesman for Mr Bowen, the Government is "engaging with countries across the region about tackling people smuggling and irregular migration, following the endorsement of the regional cooperation framework in Bali". "That work continues," the spokesman said.

An Immigration Department spokesman said Mr Metcalfe played "an important role in advancing dialogue on immigration and border security issues in the region".

"And as part of his role a head of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, regularly travels overseas to meet with his counterparts," the spokesman said. "He was in Papua New Guinea earlier this week as part of his regular meetings with PNG immigration and foreign affairs officials. "Australia is working with many countries including PNG to progress outcomes from the Bali process ministerial conference."


Victorian schools allowed to bar non-believing teachers under law change

RELIGIOUS schools will be able to reject teachers belonging to different faiths under Baillieu Government changes to Victoria's equal opportunity laws. Christian schools will be able to ban single-parent teachers or others not fitting their beliefs. Jewish and Islamic schools will be able to hire only those teachers who uphold their values.

Islamic schools will also be able to make head scarfs compulsory for female students in changes that allow faith-based schools to uphold their religion through uniform and behaviour standards.

Strict equal opportunity laws banning discrimination against teachers were initiated by the Brumby government last year and were to take effect on August 1. But the overturning of the laws by the Coalition paves the way for religious organisations to employ only staff who share the beliefs of their communities.

The reforms will also strip Victoria's Equal Opportunity Commissioner of powers to investigate and enter workplaces. The commission was to be handed similar powers to the Office of Police Integrity under a Labor policy.

As part of the Coalition's "operation common sense", Attorney-General Robert Clark will force the commission to get VCAT permission before compelling a person or company to hand over documents, attend a hearing or give evidence about claims of persistent discrimination in workplaces.

Mr Clark said removal of employment restrictions for faith-based schools was a commonsense measure to retain a consistent approach, where the values of teachers match those of students, parents and volunteers. "The changes would apply the same rules to employment as to all other aspects of the organisation's activities - such as provision of services or engagement of contractors," he said.

If challenged on their grounds for rejecting a teacher, schools would have to persuade VCAT their reasons were in keeping with their wider religious beliefs. That would mean the more extreme the school community's beliefs were, the greater their range of exemptions could be.

Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said she was pleased the Government was amending the legislation so parents wanting a choice for their children's education were not disadvantaged. "We were concerned that the rights of independent schools to employ the most suitable staff would have been curtailed," she said.

"Choice in education is very important and we think it is common sense that religious schools ought to be able to choose staff they believe are the most appropriate for their school."


Australia has its very own brianwashed Muslims

THE ringleader of an Islamist plot to carry out an armed suicide mission at an Australian army base launched an astonishing diatribe against a Supreme Court judge yesterday.

The man, 34, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stood up in the dock, pointed at Justice Betty King, and called her a criminal.

"Why do you charge us as a criminal? Why don't you charge yourself as a criminal?" the man ranted. "You kill people for oil. You kill kids. You kill innocent people. You are criminal. We are not criminal."

Police and protective services officers surrounded the man and removed him.

When court resumed, Justice King said that though a tendered medical report had stated that the man's behaviour had moderated, his outburst did not indicate a significant change.

The prisoner, along with Saney Edow Aweys, 27, of Carlton, and Nayef El Sayed, 26, of Glenroy, was found guilty by a jury last December of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack on the Holsworthy army base in NSW.

The trio, armed with high-powered military weapons, planned to storm the lightly guarded base, jurors heard. CCTV filmed the ringleader approaching the gatehouse, which was manned by unarmed private security.

His lawyer, Patrick Tehan, QC, told yesterday's pre-sentence plea hearing the plot was amateurish, adding: "He is like Charlie Chaplin walking down (to the gate) with his little bag."

Justice King responded: "Except it's not very funny."

Mr Tehan said his client's conduct in furthering the plot was "very limited". "There're no maps, no plans, no documents found on him. No explosives. No material found in his possession of an extremist nature," he said.

Justice King accepted very little was done, but she said such plots struck terror into the hearts of Australians.

Mr Tehan said his client, born in Lebanon, was a simple man with a simple faith and a low IQ, and his religious fervour increased when he attended a mosque.

"You don't have to be intelligent to be a leader," Justice King said. "You can be charismatic and stupid and still be a leader. There are a number of them in the world."


Another huge computer bungle

And it is no joke. It affects police records

A MAJOR NCIS-style overhaul of Victoria Police's forensic information system is in crisis. The hi-tech system, which is to hold case data, photographs, fingerprints and exhibit logs, was meant to be running about four years ago. But sources say technical changes mean it has been effectively shelved.

In the latest technical headache to plague Victoria Police, the project manager has quit in frustration. The revised rollout date is just four months away. Police Minister Peter Ryan demanded answers last night.

Almost $10 million was set aside for the Forensic Information Management System in 2006, with its rollout expected the following year. The system would see exhibits tagged with barcodes and scanning wands used to track their movements. Case data would be placed on a database.

Police say the delay arose from a decision to include records of seized and lost property on the system, now badged the Property and Laboratory Management (PALM) program and worth $20 million.

A Victoria Police spokesman said the total cost had risen and deadlines moved because the project had become more complex. "The cost of the PALM program is higher than initially planned, but the costs have remained within the funds allocated to the project and the ongoing support," the spokesman said.

The Herald Sun has been told money has been taken from the Macleod forensic laboratory's maintenance budget to keep it running, that wage costs have spiralled and that the forensic information component is nowhere near ready for the August implementation.

Victoria's forensic centre has a long history of problems. A 2009 Ombudsman report attacked the forensic centre's poor tracking of drug exhibits.


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