Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Sydney Harbour bridge?

It's the Hell Gate railway bridge in New York, photo from 1940

Tamil illegal immigrants  getting  'enhanced screenings'

Weeping for Tamils is absurd.  If any of them were real refugees, they could find refuge in Tamil Nadu, which is the Tamil "eelam" (homeland) just 50 miles away across the Palk strait in India.  The ones who come here are just economic migrants

A former Immigration Department official has condemned Australia's process of so-called "enhanced screening" of asylum seekers as dangerous and says the department felt pressured by the Prime Minister's office.

Under enhanced screening, asylum seekers can be rejected based on their answers in an initial interview soon after arriving in Australia.

The method has been used to send more than 1,200 asylum seekers straight home, just days after they arrive on boats.

All were Sri Lankans, and the Australian Tamil Congress says some have ended up in prison once they are returned home.

Former Immigration Department official Greg Lake has told the ABC's 7.30 program he fears legitimate refugees have been rejected.

Mr Lake was the operations manager at the Nauru detention centre earlier this year, and he also held management positions at the Christmas Island and Scherger detention centres, before quitting in April.

He says the interviews begin with a simple question: "Why did you come to Australia?".  "And if they say, 'I've run for my life because this government is persecuting me, because I'm a Tamil', for example, that's the kind of thing we'll go and explore with further questions", he said.

"But if they didn't say anything along those lines ... if the question is asked and nothing is invoked, at times it can be done on one question, which I think is very dangerous, especially given the vulnerability, it's usually done within the first week or so of a person arriving, that's a very volatile time for someone who's just stepped off a boat."

He is concerned some legitimate refugees have been rejected.

"I would never say with 100 per cent confidence yes, but it wouldn't surprise me if we found out later we had [rejected legitimate refugees]," Mr Lake said.

In a statement, the Immigration Department says it rejects any suggestion the enhanced screening process denies asylum seekers an opportunity to demonstrate their protection claims.

But lawyer David Manne, from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, disagrees.

"I have received personally credible evidence that some of these people coming here who have then been summarily expelled under this enhanced screening have raised serious and strong claims for refugee protection," Mr Manne said.


Dump anti-dumping

Many factors have been cited behind Ford Australia’s decision to cease production. While government policy has supported the local car industry to the tune of billions of dollars, other government policies have directly undermined the industry’s competitiveness.

Australia’s anti-dumping system is a case in point. Anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese-made alloy wheels and the threat of duties on steel imports in response to complaints from BlueScope Steel have directly hurt the local car industry.

There is a certain irony in the government’s subsidies to the car industry being undermined by its anti-dumping system, which is notionally intended to help industry, but in reality hurts Australian producers and consumers.

The government is establishing a new Anti-Dumping Commission from July this year and has committed extra resources to identify and impose additional duties on imports deemed too cheap under Australia’s anti-dumping laws.

Dumping is not an exception to the general case in which a country that is a net importer of a good benefits from lower prices. The gain to Australian consumers – including Australian businesses that consume the dumped good – from lower prices is larger than the loss to Australian producers of the dumped good.

Despite its pejorative connotations, Australia’s economic welfare is enhanced as a result of ‘dumping’ by foreign producers.

Dumping is no different to an improvement in Australia’s terms of trade (the ratio of export prices to import prices); allowing increased domestic consumption out of the same amount of domestic production.

Dumping is not illegal under World Trade Organization rules. Nor does the WTO require Australia to have an anti-dumping system.

Australia should dump rather than enhance its anti-dumping system.

Even if Australia retains an anti-dumping system, the responsible Minister should use their discretion under the existing law to refuse anti-dumping and countervailing measures applications on public interest grounds.

They should instead highlight the benefits of cheaper imports for Australian consumers and the economy as a whole, building community support for free trade.


Australian lake sees little change in 7,500 years

Looks like "climate change" is not very global after all.  Politics aside, however, it really is a beautiful lake

Scientists in Australia say they've found a unique lake that appears to be exactly as it was 7,500 years ago, untouched by climate change for thousands of years.

Blue Lake -- one of the largest of a number of lakes inside Blue Lake National Park on North Stradbroke Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia -- has remained relatively stable and resilient for millennia.

A group of researchers from the University of Adelaide studied the lake's water discharge and quality, and its fossil pollen and algae, to complete a historical record of the lake over the past several thousand years. They also compared photos of the lake over the past 117 years and published their findings in the academic journal Freshwater Biology.

The lake is so clear that even though it's more than 10 metres deep, you can see clear to the bottom, the study's lead resarcher Cameron Barr.  "It's like God's bathtub," Barr said in an interview. "It's beautiful. It's absolutely beautiful."

The island where the lake lies is a sand island, and Blue Lake's water is continuously replenished every 35 days, he added.

"We know that there have been variations in climate in the region including North Stradbroke Island over recent decades, but during that time the depth, shoreline and water chemistry of Blue Lake has displayed little variation," Dr Barr told the newspaper.

It has remained in its current state even as the rest of the region has shifted toward a drier climate, he added.

"It appears that Blue Lake has been an important climate 'refuge' for the freshwater biota of the region, and is in the same condition now as it was 7,500 years ago," Dr Barr said. "With appropriate management, the lake could continue relatively unchanged for hundreds, possibly thousands of years to come."


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