Wednesday, May 07, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the Greens are as corrupt as anyone

Illegals get a hard time on Manus

Disturbing allegations of regular beatings, racist slurs and unwanted sexual advances by G4S guards on Manus Island have been made by a former Salvation Army worker.

Nicole Judge, a worker on the island, said she was "shocked and distressed" at the conditions on Manus Island when she arrived in September last year to work in a general support role.

In the three months Ms Judge was on the island, she claims in the submission to the Senate inquiry there was sexual activity in the so-called "rape dungeon" in one of the compounds and was told by the guards to carry a "rape whistle" whilse inside the centre. When she told Salvation Army staff that a young Myanmar asylum seeker was walking away from a toilet block in pain, her Salvation Army team leader dismissed her concerns, saying that "because these transferees are Muslim and actively engaging in prayer that any sexual activity would have been consensual". No follow up occurred, she says.

When another asylum seeker was being beaten against a wall and a metal bed frame to the point he was unconscious by two G4S guards, Ms Judge again complained to Salvation Army management, but was told she was "stupid" and "good luck".

Mentally ill asylum seekers were kept in a separate compound called "Delta 9" Ms Judge says. "I have heard transferees screaming inside this area, and shaking the fence as I walked past." The compound, with no recreational facilities and poor lighting, was monitored by G4S guards, she says.

Ms Judge also claims expat guards told her "the Cronulla riots was the best thing to happen to Australia", while also telling asylum seekers to "f--- themselves" and to "return to their f---ing country" if they didn't stop complaining about their situation. She says she was often referred to by a number, where expat guards would rate the female staff on their attractiveness. Ms Judge says she still has contact with asylum seekers via Facebook.

Last year, an independent report by Robert Cornall found that alleged incidents of transferees being sexually abused, raped and tortured with the full knowledge of staff, "did not happen".

In a separate submission, another former Salvation Army staff member, Simon Taylor, claimed asylum seekers on Manus Island were being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff had been warned by International Health and Medical Services not to take.

"Staff was [sic] told that they needed to take anti malaria medication as a precaution but to not take Mefloquine because it can cause serious side effects. I became aware from IHMS staff clients on Manus Island were given Mefloquine despite the warnings to staff," Mr Taylor wrote in a submission.

The governor of Port Moresby has taken the extraordinary step of talking out advertisements in PNG's national newspapers to express his "grave concern" about the treatment of asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre.

In an open letter, Powes Parkop describes their treatment as "repugnant to our traditional and contemporary culture and to our Christian values". He also laments that PNG has shown a tendency to "blindly or otherwise incorporate Australian treatment and attitude into our culture and our country".

The letter acknowledges popular opposition to the resettlement in PNG of those recognised as refugees, but argues that "qualified professionals" including engineers and doctors should be granted work permits while their claims are processed.

It also urges the country's Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, not to "allow Australia to wash its hands of this matter and leave the burden to us".

G4S and the Salvation Amy did not respond in time for deadline. IHMS referred the matter to the Immigration Department.


Supreme Court cuts salary increases awarded to NSW public  servants

The NSW government has won a court battle to claw back $865 million in salaries from public servants.

The Industrial Relations Commission last year awarded public sector employees a 2.5% increase in their award payments in addition to a 0.25% increase in their superannuation entitlements.

Treasurer Andrew Constance welcomed a Court of Appeal decision on Tuesday which overturned the Industrial Relations Commission finding that excluded superannuation from the NSW Government’s 2.5 per cent cap on salary increases.

“This is a significant decision which avoids an $865 million hit to the NSW Budget and a potential loss of around 8,000 public sector jobs," Mr Constance said.

“Our wages policy is completely consistent with the historical treatment of superannuation at both Federal and State levels, and today’s Court of Appeal decision backs that position."

Salary increases that the government has already awarded to public servants from July last year include superannuation entitlements as part of the 2.5 per cent wages cap. Police officers will receive an additional $655 subsidy for their superannuation insurance premiums, costing $25.7 million over three years.

Opposition spokesman for Industrial Relations, Adam Searle, said public sector employees would receive a pay increase of 2.27 per cent instead of the full 2.5 per cent provided for in the IRC decision.

“With inflation now running at 2.9 per cent, this government is cutting the wages of public sector workers by giving them pay increases well below the CPI and making them pay their own superannuation increase," he said.

The president of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said the Court of Appeal decision on Tuesday meant a wages cut for public servants including 45,000 teachers. He said his union would campaign against the Coalition government in the lead up to next year’s state election if it refuses to increase the 2.5 per cent cap.

Public Service Association director of policy and strategy, Anthony D’Adam, said the Court of Appeal decision was "a kick in the guts" for public sector workers. He said the Association is seeking legal advice on whether to seek a High Court appeal.

“The decision will lead to wage increases that are less than the cost of living for the forseeable future," he said.

"Public sector wages will become uncompetitive with the private sector which will lead to the loss of skills and expertise.’’

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said the decision overturns the orders of the Industrial Relations Commission that awarded public sector employees a 2.5% increase in their award payments that they were to receive in addition to the 0.25% increase in their superannuation guarantee payment.

“Working people need a decent wage increase now to meet the everyday costs of living, not just a marginal increase in their superannuation that can’t touch till they are 70," he said.


Sri Lanka thanks Australia for its support

Judging by recent human rights criticisms of Britain by the UN, the UN is off with the fairies in such critiques

The Sri Lankan government has publicly thanked Australia for its "bold" decision not to co-sponsor a UN resolution to investigate alleged human rights abuses in the south Asian nation.

According to a statement by the Sri Lankan high commission, Sri Lanka thanked Australia for the "bold decision of not co-sponsoring this year’s human rights resolution on Sri Lanka’’.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the head of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, welcomed a Sri Lanka delegation, including Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, formally invited by the federal government.

"[The] government of Australia considers accountability and human rights concerns should be addressed within an internal mechanism and not by any international investigation as suggested by other countries," the high commission statement said.

"[The] Australian side indicated that they would render all possible assistance to Sri Lanka in this regard," it said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop then met with the country's External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris. During their meeting, Mr Peiris also thanked Ms Bishop for her understanding of the "Sri Lankan situation", and for declining to co-sponsor the Resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in March, the high commission said in a separate statement.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop said the meeting between the two ministers was confidential.

"The Australian Government has a well known policy of engagement with the Sri Lankan Government and a constructive and diverse relationship with Sri Lanka. We continue to work closely with the Sri Lankan Government on a range of matters," she said.

International lawyers have strongly condemned the delegation meeting, saying it was a distraction to the country's gross human rights violations - including forced abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings by state forces, land seizures by the military and oppression of political opponents that plagued Sri Lanka during the 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.

“The visit shows the price this Government is willing to pay in its one-eyed obsession to stop the boats," said Emily Howie, director of Advocacy and Research Human Rights Law Centre. "Not just silence on ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, but a concerted effort to stifle international efforts at justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity," Ms Howie said.

Ms Bishop voiced her opposition to an international investigation into the alleged war crimes in March, saying she was not convinced that the UN-backed inquiry was "the best way forward", refusing to co-sponsor the UN's independent investigation.

During November's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Australia did not join other major countries that crtiticised the regime's human rights abuses. Both India and Canada boycotted the meeting, while the United Kingdom's prime minister David Cameron publicly condemned the regime. In contrast, Prime Minister Tony Abbott presented the government with two patrol boats.


Coalition plan to strip Tasmania forest of World Heritage status was made without external review

Greenies don't like miners having a say in mining decisions, so why should Greenies have a say in environmental decisions?

The federal government's unprecedented bid to strip Tasmanian forests of World Heritage status was put together without any external advice, a Senate committee has heard.

The original case to list 170,000 hectares of mainly forested land as World Heritage emerged as part of the most comprehensive regional forests review ever undertaken in Australia, the committee was told.

The extension to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area gained the backing of the World Conservation Union and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and was unanimously approved by the World Heritage Committee in 2013.

A push by the Abbott government to excise 74,000 hectares of forest from that extension "flies in the face" of the findings of an expert Independent Verification Group set up to decide the fate of Tasmanian forests, IVG member Professor Brendan Mackey said.

"Regarding the 74,000 hectares, 90 per cent has not been industrially logged, only four per cent is heavily disturbed, 35 per cent is actually mapped as old growth, " said Professor Mackey, of Griffith University.

The Senate committee inquiring into the de-listing attempt heard the case for it was prepared by the Environment Department to meet a Coalition election commitment to wind back the listing.

The department's internal experts on world heritage were consulted, as was the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries and its ministerial offices, Greens leader Christine Milne was told.

"We had a number of discussions with the minister [for Environment, Greg Hunt] about the options being produced and the merits and demerits of the options," said departmental deputy secretary Kimberley Dripps.

"Was there any peer review, any verification from outside at all?" Senator Milne said.  "No," Dr Dripps replied.

The government argues in its submission to the World Heritage Committee that the removal would enhance the overall standing of the 1.6 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness WHA.

"... It's unusual, if not unprecedented, for it to be achieved in the reduction of the property unless there is a corresponding increase elsewhere," said Dr Dripps.

She will lead the Australian delegation to the World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha next month, where she said one of four options would be on the table.

The 21 nation World Heritage Committee could choose to accept the wind-back; reject it outright; refer it back for additional information; or defer it for a more substantial submission in 2016.

A former Environment Department staffer who worked on World Heritage issues, Peter Matthews, told the Senate committee that once an area was on the list, the World Heritage Committee had never agreed to a wind-back as a principle.

"It actually has to be demonstrated that it has lost its outstanding universal value," Mr Matthews said.


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