Friday, December 09, 2011

Quarter of asylum seekers moved to communities

In other words they are not detained at all. They are home free

About a quarter of immigration detainees who have arrived by boat are now being housed in the community, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe has given an update on the figures at an inquiry hearing in Canberra. He told the Joint Select Committee that around 800 asylum seekers have been approved for community detention since August.

Mr Metcalfe says in the past month the detention population has steadily increased to more than 5,500 people. "The large numbers of arrivals continue to place strain on the detention network," he said.

"We all understand the potential consequences of a return to an overcrowded and pressured detention network and you can be assured that the Department is doing all we can to avoid that."

A boat carrying more than 160 asylum seekers was intercepted off Christmas Island on Tuesday.

Mr Metcalfe estimates it will cost close to $1 million to respond to the detention network inquiry. The inquiry started in June and is due to report back by March next year.

Mr Metcalfe says his Department has made detailed submissions to the inquiry. "We've responded either in hearings or on notice to over 1,100 questions from the Committee, provided over 4,000 pages of written material and some 26 departmental employees have been made available as witnesses," he said.

"The total direct cost to the Department responding to and supporting the Committee is projected to be in excess of $970,000 by the end of this financial year."


Greenpeace destroys a business

A PAPER company is reviewing the future of its $20 million plant in western Sydney after "intimidation" from environmental group Greenpeace cost it major supermarket orders.

The appraisal could see a job-starved section of Sydney lose a facility with a capacity to employ up to 30 workers.

Solaris Paper has been accused by Greenpeace of using an Indonesian supplier, related company Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which harvests rainforests and puts the disappearing Sumatran tiger at further risk.

Solaris says the Greenpeace claims and support from unions have cost it business with Woolworths and the third-biggest supermarket chain IGA.

"We are not moving away from the fact that there is intimidation and harassment - allbeit on a moral high ground," the director of corporate affairs for Solaris, Steve Nicholson told

Mr Nicholson said Solaris supplies came from "legal non-controversial areas. In other words degraded forest that's good for nothing else".

And he said: "We do more for the preservation and protection of Sumatran tigers than Greenpeace will ever do."

Greenpeace rejects the claim by Solaris that its imported supplies are from appropriate sources.

"It's ridiculous for Solaris, a company controlled by the notorious rainforest destroyer Asia Pulp and Paper to be blaming Greenpeace for its woes," spokesman Reece Turner said.

"This is a company that literally makes money from selling loo roll made from Indonesian rainforests and endangered tiger habitat.

"Once retailers and consumers found out the truth about Solaris and APP it's no wonder they've chosen to reject their products."

Solaris has built a $20 million facility in Greystanes with a capacity to employ 25-30 workers, but at present it is almost idle. It might soon be shut down entirely.

The facility receives rolls of paper from Indonesia and re-packages the sheets into toilet and facial tissues and kitchen paper for sale in Australia.

The Solaris showdown has highlighted increasingly aggressive campaigns by Greenpeace and other groups to marshall consumer comments to force companies into agreements on what ingredients they use.

Retail giant Harvey Norman has been the successful target of one campaign focused on its timber furniture, while this month, Bakers Delight agreed not to use genetically modified wheat - which isn't available anyway.

Mr Turner from Greenpeace told potential job losses had to be looked at from "a total employment kind of position".

"Jobs are sensitive and we all want to make sure we have as many jobs as we can in Australia," he said. Mr Turner said more jobs could be created if a tissue-maker produced items in Australia and didn't import materials.

He said APP was "our No.1 public enemy for us in Indonesia".

A statement from Solaris said it was being "forced to review manufacturing operations in Australia".

Mr Nicholson said: "The decision to review and restructure its operations follows a series of unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks left by NGOs (non-government organisations) led by Greenpeace, unions and those threatened by the introduction of quality, competitive products


Fatal carelessness of emergency phone operator

A MOTHER was murdered and her children tortured after 000 operators disregarded her calls for help, choosing to believe her killer's assurances that nothing was wrong.

Sean Eugene Maraffko, 42, stabbed to death Joanne Wicking, 29, and tortured two of her daughters, telling emergency operators Ms Wicking's calls for help were "a mistake". He burned and stabbed her eight-year-old daughter before smashing a ceramic dish over her head, and punched a 10-year-old.

A Herald Sun investigation has prompted the 000 system watchdog to examine the tragic failure to prevent Ms Wicking's death. The Herald Sun obtained transcripts of the four 000 calls made just before Ms Wicking was murdered in March last year.

She was screaming and crying in the first call, but Maraffko grabbed the phone and told the operator "we're fine, we're fine ... it was an accidental call, sorry". The 000 operator told Maraffko: "All right, I'll cancel the call." Minutes later she called 000 again and asked for police.

Maraffko again took the phone and told the operator "everything's OK" and said the call was coming from Albert St, Shepparton, rather than the correct address of Albert St, Kilmore. Maraffko rang 000 three minutes later, giving the correct address and saying they didn't need help because the earlier calls were "a mistake", blaming them on "a four-year-old here".

All calls were made within seven minutes on mobile phones and a landline from her Kilmore home on the day Ms Wicking died.

Maraffko had 33 previous convictions and was on parole over other violent crimes after being released from prison just three weeks before killing Ms Wicking, who had taken him in as a lodger.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority began its probe only after the Herald Sun last week alerted it to the fact Ms Wicking was let down by the 000 system. An ACMA spokesman confirmed it had since started an investigation to see "whether there are any elements of 000 call handling that can be improved to assist emergency callers in the future".

Helen Wicking, the victim's mother, yesterday welcomed the ACMA probe. "It comes too late to save Joanne, but hopefully improvements can be made to the 000 system so nobody else has to go through what she did," Mrs Wicking said.

She said her 10-year-old granddaughter escaped and ran to a neighbour's house for help. The neighbour rang 000 and succeeded in persuading the operator to get police to attend. By then it was too late to save Ms Wicking's life.

Three of the four 000 calls were handled by Telstra operators. Only one call was put through to police.

A Telstra spokeswoman said it would help with the investigation: "This is a very tragic situation and our thoughts are with Ms Wicking's family and friends." [BULLSHIT!]

Maraffko was last month jailed for 35 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 for Ms Wicking's murder.


Federal gay marriage law would face challenge in High Court, says Father Frank Brennan

ANY change to federal law to allow gay marriage was likely to be challenged in the High Court of Australia, a prominent human rights lawyer said.

Labor backbencher Stephen Jones will bring a Private Member's Bill to Parliament in early 2012 to change the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act.

The move follows the ALP's decision last week to change its platform, to "ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life".

Jesuit priest and academic Fr Frank Brennan, writing in the online magazine Eureka Street, said he had no doubt there would be a High Court challenge if the Bill passed Parliament.

"Even if the Australian Parliament does legislate to expand the definition of marriage beyond its traditional meaning in the Marriage Act, there will undoubtedly be a constitutional challenge in the High Court, given that the Parliament does not have the power to expand its legislative competence beyond the wording of the constitution," Fr Brennan wrote.

Under the constitution, the Parliament has the power to "make laws with respect to marriage".

In 1991, High Court judge Sir Daryl Dawson said the Commonwealth power to legislate with respect to marriage "is predicated upon the existence of marriage as a recognisable (although not immutable) institution".

Justice Dawson warned: "Just how far any attempt to define or redefine, in an abstract way, the rights and obligations of the parties to a marriage may involve a departure from that recognisable institution, and hence travel outside constitutional power, is a question of no small dimension."

Fr Brennan said a better approach would be for the states and territories to legislate civil unions. Queensland's Parliament passed civil unions legislation last week.

The Australia National University's Professor Margaret Thornton said the Federal Government would have a "good chance" of defending the law change in the High Court.


1 comment:

Paul said...

This will be interesting because some believe that the Constitution is null and void anyway and that real recognition of Australian independence only began after Australia's admission to the League of Nations in 1919, signifying full international recognition of our National sovereignty. This recognition was absent when we were bequeathed our Constitution, so it (the Constitution) is only applicable to Australia as a self-governing Colony, not Australia as a recognized Sovereign Nation. The Australia Act of 1986 of course removed from England the power to change our Constitution (we waited that long? Sovereign nation?) but the power to change the constitution was supposedly given to the people in the form of referenda. I'm no expert but if Labor changes Laws related to marriage then are they not disregarding the Constitution, in which case is the Constitution redundant? If so, when did we agree to it, or more to the point why do they know this? What have our politicians done without including us? I know Queensland's constitution was demolished illegally by Beattie in the early 2000s (Brigalow Corp). has the trend gone nationwide?

I'm so sick of the blindness of single-issue people.