Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hundreds missing in asylum boat sinking off Indonesia

More deaths that can be laid at the feet of the "compassionate" ALP -- for encouraging these boats to come

AN overloaded wooden vessel carrying about 250 migrants and suspected to be heading to Australia has sunk off Indonesia's main island of Java. So far only 33 people have been rescued, search and rescue officials said, with efforts to reach survivors hampered by bad weather and heavy seas.

"A boat carrying around 250 people has sunk south of Prigi beach in eastern Java and we have started a search and rescue effort," the national search and rescue team said in an sms message.

State-run news agency Antara quoted search team member Brian Gauthier as saying: "The boat sank Saturday evening. "It is somewhat difficult to go on with the search because extreme weather has caused reduced visibility," he said.

Thirty-three people have been rescued and are receiving assistance in the town of Prigi, about 30km from where the boat sank, Mr Gauthier said, adding that the rescue team believed some passengers were still alive and were likely suffering "severe dehydration". "They must be evacuated as soon as possible," he said. "They can't stay for long in the middle of the sea."

The boat is believed to be a traditional fishing vessel with a capacity of around 100. A survivor from Afghanistan, 24-year-old Esmat Adine, gave rescuers an estimate for how many passengers were on the boat. "He did not know exactly how many passengers there were, but he said that four buses with around 60 or more adult passengers each had turned up to the port where they set off," a translator for Adine said.

Adine said the boat had been heading towards Australia's Christmas island.

Because people were so tightly packed, they had nowhere to go, he said. "That made the boat even more unstable and eventually it sank," he said.

Adine said that he and others survived by clinging to parts of the broken vessel until they were picked up by local fishermen. He estimated that more than 40 children were on the ship. It was not immediately clear if any were rescued.

Watulimo sub-district police chief Muhammed Khoiril told today: "After interviewing the passengers, we've learnt that they originate from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. There also are some from Dubai."

Thousands of asylum seekers head through Southeast Asian countries on their way to Australia every year and many link up with people smugglers in Indonesia for the dangerous sea voyage.

Canberra has failed in its efforts to set up a regional processing centre in neighbouring countries in an attempt to reduce the flow of asylum seekers heading to Australia.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation of 240 million people, has more than 18,000 islands and thousands of kilometres of unpatrolled coastline, making it a key transit point for smuggling migrants.

The private television station Metro TV reported that 33 people had been found alive and that perhaps 215 others were still missing.

Last month a ship carrying about 70 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan capsized off the southern coast of Central Java; at least eight people died.


Nurse who blew whistle on dangerous Indian doctor seeks $400,000

WHISTLEBLOWER nurse Toni Hoffman says the stress of exposing Jayant Patel's malpractice, which led to three manslaughter convictions, had taken a toll on her. Ms Hoffman, who exposed the killer surgeon, is seeking $400,000 compensation from Queensland Health for injuries and loss of income. She said she was also denied special leave to attend Patel's trial.

"Basically, I want Queensland Health to compensate me for the last seven years," she said. "I want to be financially compensated. I was on WorkCover for quite a long period of time, and your salary drops and I've lost a lot of money."
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Ms Hoffman said she took all her annual leave to attend Patel's trial in June last year - five years after she exposed the deaths of patients he treated at Bundaberg Hospital, where she still works in the intensive care unit. She wants her leave reinstated so she can take a well-earned rest.

"It was really difficult at the beginning, because Patel still had a lot of support in the hospital, and what I did was against the code of conduct," Ms Hoffman said. "It's just been such a long, hard road … they were my patients that died."

Her lawyers said she had suffered psychologically and financially due to her role in exposing Patel. The compensation claim was lodged in the District Court last week after talks to settle her claim broke down.

"It is an outrage that Queensland Health did not give her the support she needed to get on with her life and now refuses to acknowledge her latest claim," Peter Koutsoukis, a senior partner of law firm Maurice Blackburn, said. "Her claim for $400,000 includes past and future loss of income, medical expenses and loss of superannuation income."

Premier Anna Bligh said she had personally passed on her thanks to Ms Hoffman for the service she had done to Queensland by blowing the whistle. She stressed it was the workers' compensation board, not Queensland Health, that had assessed her claim last year.

"I know that Ms Hoffman has been through a very difficult time, and I have nothing but admiration for her," Ms Bligh said. "I know that she has been offered support and counselling if she has any further needs that Queensland Health can help her with. I know that her local director of nursing is only too happy to help."

Ms Bligh said she would look further into the matter. No court documents had been served on Queensland Health as of Friday morning, she said. "I'd certainly be looking, if there are any court documents served, to see what the basis of any case might be," she said.

In June last year, Patel was sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of the manslaughter of three people and grievous bodily harm of one person.

Maurice Blackburn principal Ian Brown has represented 200 of Patel's former patients before commissions of inquiry and in successful compensation claims against the state.


Nanny state rules driving us mad

ANIMAL owners, charities and even the Scouts have become the target of wacky council bylaws and ratepayers have had enough.

Peacock owner Tiffany Ashman, 44, was outraged to find new laws proposed by the Yarra Ranges Council would force her to buy a permit for each of her four prized birds.

Ms Ashman, of Woori Yallock, hit out at the council for increasing the red tape for everyday citizens. "Frankly it is none of their business what birds I own," Ms Ashman said. "I live on rural land and I've never had a complaint from anyone. "How far are they going to take this, do I have to get a permit for everything I do?"

The 77-page document released by Yarra Ranges proposing new laws next year also cracks down on charities and community groups, like the Scouts, who will need permits to sell raffle tickets and hold cake stalls.

The latest move follows hundreds of controversial decisions made by Victorian councils in the past five years. Casey Council almost banned kites from parks last year, but the law was later scaled back to restrict battery-operated aeroplanes.

The Bass Coast shire shocked families last year when it almost passed a bylaw forcing parents to buy a $100 permit for children to camp in their own backyards.

Yarra Ranges planning, building and health director Andrew Paxton said the draft was a talking point and residents were invited to give feedback.


Government allows dangerous "excursions" for illegals from immigration detention centres

A Darwin MP has called on Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to suspend some asylum seeker excursions in Darwin. It is alleged a 28-year-old Iranian man inappropriately touched several young girls girls at the waterfront wave pool on Wednesday while he was on a supervised excursion.

The member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs, says the Immigration Department should stop allowing detainees to visit places like swimming pools, in the interests of public safety. "The safety of my community, in particular young children, is absolutely paramount and situations like this can not be allowed to occur," she said. "He (Mr Bowen) needs to stop these pool visits immediately in light of these allegations."

Federal Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the excursions should be stopped. "The minister should be very much reviewing what the practices are where detainees are allowed to mix in the general community, particularly single males," he said.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has rejected the calls. "It is appropriate that people in detention from time to time participate in community activities," he said.

The Immigration Department says the excursions for asylum seekers being held at detention centres in Darwin are carefully supervised by security staff.

Spokesman Sandi Logan says the alleged wave pool incident should not make people worried if they see other asylum seekers on excursions. "This is very much an extraordinary circumstance," he said.

"It is not one that I would want the community to think in any way ... was indicative of the sorts of clients we have in detention."
The Iranian man was arrested by Northern Territory Police last night and is being questioned today.


Nothing like our Dame Edna Everage

DAME Edna Everage is the toast of London, after a 50-year career, receiving great reviews for her inaugural pantomime role on the West End.

She may be in her late 70s, but Melbourne's favourite gigastar has wowed the audiences in Dick Whittington, flying through the air on a wombat, dressed in a glorious Union Jack dress.

The audience all wore Dame Edna-style glasses in one scene as she reminded them: "I was born in glorious 3D, possums."

The Daily Mail review reported it was: "A delight to see her arrive on stage" and "Dame Edna fans basically got what they wanted - Dame Edna playing her glorious self. "One woman foolishly dashed on to the stage when invited and was ridiculed for 10 minutes about her dress sense.

"Dame Edna, struggling to describe the woman's attire, eventually came up with 'affordable', to much mirth from the audience."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Edna is a man dressed as a woman, yet its not drag. Its so much more than that. I saw her in Melbourne in 1981 and I still remain in awe.