Thursday, May 29, 2014


A media report below makes a key admission followed by inside info from Larry Pickering

Video shows tense meeting before Manus Island riot

Asylum seekers already angry about the uncertainty they faced were repeatedly told they would remain in Manus Island's overcrowded detention centre indefinitely at an incendiary pre-riot meeting, footage obtained exclusively by Fairfax Media shows.

The meeting brought to a head tensions that had simmered for months over the failure to process claims for refugee status and was a catalyst for the violence that began less than two hours later, culminating in the killing of Reza Barati.

Nearly two hours of video chart the meeting's descent into combative chaos as detainees vented their frustrations on PNG and Australian officials, who delivered scripted answers that underscored the hopelessness of the detainees' situation.

Five times PNG immigration official Jeffrey Kiangali told the detainees assessing their asylum claims would be a "very lengthy process" with "no definite timeframe".

He also repeatedly stressed they were "free to go home" any time, but if they chose to stay, they would be stuck in the detention camp "for as long as it takes to process your claims". His answers to questions put by the detainees at a meeting 12 days earlier were written by Australian and PNG immigration officials.

Mr Kiangali told the detainees from Mike Compound who gathered for the meeting that any misbehaviour might affect their refugee claims, a suggestion refugee lawyers said was inappropriate.

Mr Kiangali said: "Your behaviour and conduct at this centre will also be taken into consideration during your refugee status determination process."

In protests that followed, some of the detainees taunted PNG nationals outside the centre with slurs that were used to justify the retribution that followed, but in the meeting one Iranian stressed that their grievance was not with PNG people. "We just talk about your government, not your people," the man declared. "Your people are really lovely and we love them but, the thing is, your government shouldn't accept this."

According to the departmental inquiry headed by Robert Cornall, the meeting brought the tensions that had ben building to flashpoint, with detainees believing they would be on Manus Island for up to four years.

"The transferees felt that, after waiting for 12 days (for answers to questions), they were given no information at the Sunday meeting and that their questions had not been satisfactorily answered," the report concluded.

The meeting also underscores that many asylum seekers were simply upset they had been transferred to PNG when they wanted to come to Australia.

Daniel Webb, of the Human Rights Law Centre, said: "Refugees have rights. The governments of Australia and PNG must respect them instead of threatening to ignore them unless people are completely and utterly compliant whilst being detained indefinitely in inhumane conditions."

It is understood the video has been submitted to a Senate inquiry by security firm G4S.


Who was Reza Berati?

... a report from someone who was there

Well, he certainly wasn’t an “asylum seeker” or a “refugee”, as the ABC continually refers to him as. He was a well-heeled Iranian illegal immigrant who was beguiled by the promise of a land of milk and honey where people are actually paid not to work.

The ABC claimed to have a graphic inside story of how he was killed... sufficiently graphic to incite thousands to protest across Australia demanding Morrison’s head on a plate.

Of course the ABC and Fairfax didn’t remind anyone that reopening Manus Island was Kevin Rudd’s idea.

And not a single protester was to be seen when reports surfaced that 1200 “asylum seekers” had drowned. Oh yes, I remember, that happened under their Labor Government didn’t it?

Information received by Pickering Post this morning differs somewhat from the sketchy ABC report and is not included in the Cornall report.

To be fair, the information is from a local and it cannot be verified, but nor could the inflammatory ABC report.

“That Berati bastard was the ringleader, he was the one who started the riot”, said the informant. “When the New Guinea security guys of G4S got to the compound, the inmates began throwing rocks and chairs and tried to light fires. They were yelling insults and stuff, that’s when it all got out of hand.”

According to the informant, Berati was well known to security, he was the one they were after, it was he who had led the chanting that had been intimidating the guards for weeks. The chanting went as follows (excuse the language):

“AIDS pigs, we’ll fuck your mother, we’ll fuck your wife, we’ll fuck your sister and rape your daughter.”

When the G4S guards arrived they were met with a hail of rocks, stones and chairs. “I was only looking on but that’s when the guards broke through the fence. It was clear to me that they were only looking for Berati but he had taken off into his unit and was hiding under the bed.” (The ABC report said he was sitting in the computer room.)

“I didn’t see them kill him but they were yelling his name and seemed intent on getting him.”

Many other inmates were injured but the fatal injuries sustained by Berati indicated he was specifically targeted.

“It had been brewing for weeks”, said the informant. “It was Berati who had tried to get everyone to the riot, but only a hundred or so joined him. And many of the injured were innocent bystanders.

"When they carried Berati out you could see from his head wounds he wasn’t going to make it.

    “No-one will convince me that they didn’t especially go after him.”

Now, it’s easy to understand Berati’s frustration but perhaps he was not the innocent faced victim that his family and the ABC portrayed him as.

(The informant claims he has already spoken to the ABC but his account of what happened was ignored.)

Bias by omission is the ABC’s MO.


ALP Gonski plan unaffordable: Abbott

PRIME minister Tony Abbott has labelled the previous government's school reforms "pie-in-the-sky", saying Australia can't afford a back-down on Gonski funding.

Mr Abbott has been greeted by around 100 pro-Gonski protesters on his arrival for a media conference in Hobart on Thursday.

The protest came a day after David Gonski broke his silence on the system he helped design under the former Labor government.

He accused the current government of abandoning needs-based funding after the federal budget dumped $30 billion in funding proposed for schools in 2018 and 2019.

"I'm certainly not committing to a permanent massive increase at the same level of the former government because it's those sorts of pie-in-the-sky promises that got us into the problem in the first place," Mr Abbott told reporters.

But the prime minister said schools funding was not being cut and would continue to increase over the next four years.

"We are continuing to increase funding, it's just that we are not continuing to increase it at the rate of the former government's promises," he said.

Protesters from the Australian Education Union demanded the full six-year allocation for the Gonski reforms, chanting: "What do we want? Six years."

Mr Abbott said funding would increase "dramatically" for three years and at a slower rate in year four.

"I respect the sincerity of the people out the front, they obviously want the best for their kids and for their community's schools," he said.

"We all want the best but getting better schools is not just about money."

Mr Gonski said the coalition's decision to increase commonwealth funding to schools by the rate of inflation from 2018 would be to Australia's detriment.

"I sincerely hope that in the period between now and 2017 the federal government will change the presently budgeted position," he said.

Earlier, junior minister Steve Ciobo claimed the money Labor had offered was never really available.

"The out years (from 2018) ... was nothing more than an aspiration and in fact would never have been funded by the Labor party because they did not have the money," Mr Ciobo told ABC radio on Thursday.

"We hope by tightening the budget now we will be in a position where we can perhaps provide additional support to health and to education."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten gave the Abbott government "an F for effort and an F for outcome".

"What a lazy, reckless, indifferent mob of swindlers this government are when they say we're not going to have anything more to do with the funding of schools," he told reporters in Melbourne.


George Brandis forced to rethink discrimination act changes

Attorney-General George Brandis is preparing to water down a controversial plan to scrap sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that restrict racist insults and hate speech, after an avalanche of [Leftist] submissions signalled concerns over the changes.

And two Liberal MPs who supported scrapping section 18C of the act have admitted the government needs to rethink proposed changes.

Several MPs confirmed that, as one put it, "there hasn't been a word whispered about it" in recent weeks, while several speculated the law changes could be "parked" for months as the government grapples with a fierce budget backlash and a big drop in popular support.

Fairfax Media has learned Senator Brandis is working to further wind back the proposed changes, amid a ferocious grassroots community campaign that Labor MPs have quickly tapped into.

The Attorney-General was forced by the cabinet in March to soften his original plans amid a welter of protest from Coalition MPs in marginal electorates, some of whom represent large ethnic communities.

The proposed changes to the draft legislation by Senator Brandis have not been finalised and will not be put to cabinet for at least a month.

But it is understood a broad exemption from prosecution in the draft for "words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in … the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter" could be watered down after a storm of community protest.

Similarly, a limitation in the draft definition of "intimidate" to "cause fear of physical harm" could also be broadened to include verbal bullying.

Some community groups have also argued against the proposed removal of provisions making it unlawful to "offend, insult and humiliate" someone because of their race or ethnicity.

Senator Brandis said on Tuesday he was working through the 5300 submissions and the government "didn't have a consultation period with the intention of not listening to what people have to say".

"There is a large variety of views from all points of the opinion spectrum and we will take into consideration all of those views and we will arrive at a final proposal," he said.

NSW Liberal MP Alex Hawke, who has been a supporter of scrapping section 18C, admitted on Tuesday that changes needed to be made to the draft laws.

"We need to start again. I don't want see journalists prosecuted for offending [and] ethnic community leaders are making a compelling case that any reforms have to be very carefully handled," he said.

Fellow NSW MP Craig Kelly, who has also previously supported repeal of 18C, said he still supported doing something but "the detail of the legislation, there are perhaps one or two words that could be moved around. I don't think the first draft that George has done is locked in concrete and I think everyone is flexible about changes to the proposed wording".

A third MP, who also initially supported the changes, said he had been swamped by ethnic community leaders lobbying against the changes.

"I support protecting journalists but I'm now convinced the politics go well beyond that," the MP said.

However, Liberal senator Cory Bernardi said he still supported the proposals.

"Some principles are worth fighting for. I happen to believe freedom of speech is one of those principles," he said.

On Tuesday night, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told an Australian Federation of Islamic Councils dinner that "any move to weaken protections against hate speech is a seriously retrograde step".


NSW public schools to face random audits, assessments

For the first time, the state's public schools will face random audits and will have to meet the same standards as private schools to ensure staff are qualified, buildings are maintained and the curriculum is being delivered.

In order to operate, private and Catholic schools are required to be registered with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards but until now, public schools have only had to answer to the Department of Education. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli will introduce legislation this week which will mean public schools will also have to be independently assessed by the Board of Studies and will undergo random audits.

Mr Piccoli said all schools in NSW, private and public, "should be on the same footing".

"This is not about closing down schools, the point is schools will be given the opportunity to fix problems," he said.

"As Minister for Education for all NSW schools, it makes sense that the same standards are met by all schools in NSW."

Mr Piccoli said it was also not about targeting principals.

"Principals can be sacked now, so this doesn't change that, this is about external validation," Mr Piccoli said.

The audits would be checking for such things as classrooms being fire compliant, all staff having appropriate university qualifications and working with children checks and the maintenance of enrolment registers.

Audits would also check that schools were recording student achievement and keeping up-to-date attendance records. He said the checks would also ensure that schools were operating within their development approval.

"One example would be an independent school which had 2000 students but only had DA approval for 1500 … they had to fix that and that's the sort of thing we would be looking at with public schools," Mr Piccoli said.

The new registration process would not be "burdensome" for public schools but the "external validation" process would ensure they met the same standards as independent schools are required to meet.

NSW public schools will need to comply with the same requirements as non-government schools by the end of next year.

The acting president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Gary Zadkovich, said there had been no consultation.

"We don't have any of the details of the changes made by the minister," Mr Zadkovich said.


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