Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sri Lankan illegals sent home voluntarily  rather than face long detention

So much for their need of "asylum"

SRI LANKAN male asylum seekers have been sent home after refusing to be transferred to the offshore processing centre on Nauru, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said today.

Mr Bowen says the 18 Sri Lankans left Christmas Island for Colombo today after asking to be sent home instead of being sent to the Pacific island for the processing of their claims as asylum seekers.

The first group to be sent for offshore processing since new asylum seeker laws were enacted were transferred from Christmas Island to Nauru on September 14.

Australia has reopened the processing centre at Nauru and is soon to reopen Papua New Guinea's Manus Island as part of the federal government's policy to stem the number of boat arrivals.

Mr Bowen also said the government would introduce a recommendation from the Houston independent panel to bar people arriving by boat from sponsoring family under the Special Humanitarian Program.

The Houston report on asylum seeker policy, handed to the government on August 13, recommended 22 key measures to stem the boat arrivals to Australia.

Mr Bowen said the plane carrying the 18 men left Christmas Island at 0815 (11.15am AEST) today bound for the Sri Lankan capital.

He said 16 of the 18 men arrived in Australia after August 13, when the government announced its new border protection policies.

"They have asked not be transferred to Nauru, but instead to be returned to their homeland of Sri Lanka," Mr Bowen told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

"That has been arranged and facilitated."
The minister said the changes to the concessions under the special humanitarian program would ensure family reunions occurred only through the normal channels.

"There will be no special concessions," Mr Bowen said.

"Up until now it had been possible for people who arrive in Australia by boat to sponsor family members and not to show that the other requirements under the special humanitarian program were met."

Mr Bowen said the government had also accepted the recommendation to increase the numbers of people accepted under the family reunion program by 4000.


Nazi-themed striptease  slammed by Queensland Jewish Community

Nazi regalia and artifacts are not banned in Australia but no-one forces you to buy them.  Similarly, if you don't like the show below, don't go there.  All sorts of things that offend Christians are not censored

A NAZI-themed striptease being performed in Brisbane clubs has been slammed as "repulsive" by Queensland's Jewish community amid warnings it's becoming part of a trend towards shows glorifying the Third Reich.

The controversial burlesque show features a syringe-wielding, scantily-clad Nazi doctor with a swastika armband conducting scientific experiments on a pair of hooded girls.

Performed to a crowd of hundreds at the recent Dead of Winter festival at Brisbane's Jubilee Hotel, the show is the brainchild of burlesque artist and model Ali Darling, 24, who adapted it from a Rob Zombie short film.

Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies president Jason Steinberg said featuring swastikas and other Nazi iconography in a burlesque performance was disrespectful and repulsive.

"It is offensive to the Jewish community - also it would be offensive to the majority of Queenslanders," he said.

"It shouldn't be acceptable in this day and age for someone to use Nazi symbols in a way that glorifies that era."

He said there were still Holocaust survivors living in Queensland, and it was inappropriate for images from that era to be used in a burlesque show.

Ms Darling said she had been performing the show, entitled Werewolf Women of the SS, for about six months, and it had become one of her "signature acts".

"It's a pretty popular show and I will be expanding it because it's going to go into my stage production."

She said the show was satirical and highly stylised, and although she had "absolutely" had negative feedback about it, she'd had an equal number of people praising the performance.

"I get as many people loving it as hating it, which is fine with me. I like getting in people's faces," she said.

Ms Darling, who also has an act featuring a real pig's eye and another where she tears pages out of a Bible with her teeth and spits them at her audience, said she knew of a few other burlesque dancers with similar performances around Australia.

Brisbane cabaret performer Bertie Page said she had noticed a disturbing trend towards Nazi-themed burlesque shows.

"I've noticed it around the traps, it seems to be somewhat of a trend at the moment and I find it really quite concerning," she said.

Swastika-themed burlesque costuming has become available on the internet, and a recent film Burlesque Assassins features a group of dancers as Nazi-fighting killers.

Ms Page, who has German heritage, said she was worried such performances could give burlesque a bad name, and said the use of the swastika was an "indisputably terrible thing".

"The minute you put on that swastika you are representing a power that is bought at the expense of others' lives," she said.

Lola Montgomery, a performer who is completing a PhD in burlesque, said she did not think there was a trend towards Nazi-themed burlesque, and saw such performances more as isolated incidents.


Decline in male teachers a 'real cause for concern' says WA education minister

WA's best young male teachers would be sent into high schools to convince students the profession is as worthy as law or mining under a plan by the state's principals.

The proposal is among a suite of strategies that will be put to Education Minister Peter Collier, who is seeking advice from the Equal Opportunity Commission to determine how to entice more men into teaching without contravening discrimination laws.

The latest data from the WA College of Teaching reveals 313 fewer male teachers - including one-quarter who were under the age of 29 - are working in the state's classrooms this year.

Across the state, there are 12,049 men and 36,544 women registered as teachers for 2012, men representing 24.7 per cent. That compared with 12,362 men, representing 25.4 per cent, last year - and 26.4 per cent five years ago.

WA Primary Principals' Association president Steve Breen, along with the bodies that represent Catholic and independent primary principals, will meet Mr Collier, a former teacher, to discuss their proposal to target school students.

Mr Breen said principals were determined to present teaching as a worthy career by sending their best young male teachers into schools to speak to Year 10-12 pupils.

"There is a perception out there that being a lawyer or an engineer is the be all and end all - we need to be proactive in this area, you just can't let it keep getting worse each year," he said.

"The Minister has got great concerns about it, school principals have got great concerns about it, and I would imagine parents have got great concerns about it.

"Schools need both male and female role models as teachers. Both are extremely important and if you only get one point of view, that, to me, is a detrimental factor in a child's education."

Mr Collier said teaching had not been immune to the strength of the state's mining and construction sector, which has lured thousands of young men to ``set themselves up financially in a relatively short period of time". He labelled the decline of male teachers - particularly in primary schools - a ``real cause for concern".

"Only about 14 per cent of teachers in our primary schools are male, which means that a significant number of our students can progress through their primary years of schooling without having had a male teacher," Mr Collier said.

"In some instances, particularly in single-mother families, this lack of male role models is not ideal.

"Ultimately, our ability to entice more males into the teaching profession will rest on our success in changing any misconceptions that exist amongst that group (those being lured into mining or other careers) about the validity of teaching as a career pathway."

Mr Collier said the Education Department would meet with the EOC to determine how to "promote male employment in the primary school sector without contravening discrimination and equal opportunity law".

He said WA teachers were now among the highest paid in Australia, in a bid to ensure "we can attract and retain teachers".

Independent Primary School Heads of Australia WA branch president Andrew Manley said until primary teaching was presented as an appealing career ``from both a status and remuneration perspective", he feared the number of men entering the classroom would ``remain disproportionately low".

"As such, we encourage males to look at primary teaching as a positive and rewarding career," he said. "Nonetheless, when recruiting staff, while finding an appropriate gender balance in schools is an ideal goal, at the end of the day we are always looking for the best person for the job regardless of gender."

WA's largest provider of teacher education, Edith Cowan University, has only 12 men among the 694 students enrolled in early childhood studies this year.

ECU's Centre for Research in Early Childhood director Caroline Barratt-Pugh said more research was needed to understand the impact of less men taking up the profession, but it was commonly believed that men were role models for boys, ``especially for those where men are absent or marginalised".

"I think the bottom line is changing the perception of early childhood education and care as critical to the future of Australia, in which both women and men have an important role to play," she said.

Opposition education spokesman Paul Papalia said the State Government had failed to address attrition rates, particularly among male teachers.

"It may be an indication that teachers are leaving out of frustration due to inability to return to the metropolitan area or the inability to get permanency as a result of the independent public schools program," he said.

"We know that in 2015, there will be a shortage of 2500 high school teachers preceded in the next two years by surpluses of teachers."


Smart meter data shared far and wide

DETAILED information about electricity customers' power usage, which gives insights into when a house is occupied, is being shared with third parties including mail houses, debt collectors, data processing analysts and government agencies.

Customers with smart meters who sign up for Origin Energy's online portal must consent to their data being shared with a string of third parties. The data is stored in Australia but shared with US company Tendril, which is described by Origin as a smart energy technology provider.

Australia's privacy watchdog said the technology could threaten people's privacy. "We are starting to see people voicing concern about the level of data that these meters can collect," federal Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said.

Smart meters were a common concern among Age readers who responded to our series on privacy.

Mr Pilgrim said electricity companies had a legal responsibility to delete or "de-identify" personal information that was no longer needed. However, an Origin spokesman said the company kept former customers' data for retrospective queries and "tax and compliance purposes".

The state government aims to install smart meters - which log electricity use every half-hour - in all Victorian homes by the end of next year.

At the beginning of the year Electricity distributors Jemena and United Energy released trial web portals that connect to smart meters and more retailers are expected to follow suit.

Origin's online portal was released last month and lets people monitor their electricity costs using smart meter data collected from energy distributors. Customers can provide information about the size of their home, whether they rent or own, the number of adults and children in their family, if anyone stays in during the day and what appliances they own. The portal then calculates how much energy is used in the kitchen, laundry and for heating.

An Origin spokesman said the portal was fully compliant with Australian privacy legislation. He said the additional information requested about each household "adds to the richness of the Origin Smart experience".

Customer information can only be accessed by staff involved in billing. He said the electricity retailer only shared information with third parties when they had a "legitimate business need to do so in order to meet our service obligations to our customers".

Changes to the Privacy Act being debated in Parliament would restrict companies from sending customer data overseas unless the receiver was founded or controlled in Australia.

'More than 1000 people have signed up to United Energy's portal. UE spokeswoman Lisa Drought said the distributor only provided smart meter data to customers and energy retailers, and would not sell the information to third parties. She said the portal also had "internet bank-like security" to prevent privacy breaches.


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