Monday, July 20, 2015

Reclaim Australia rallies in Sydney, Queensland, Perth and Hobart

ARRESTS have been made at one of the Reclaim Australia rallies today, as police separated protesters and Pauline Hanson told a crowd she was against the spread of Islam.

As protesters take part in Reclaim Australia protests today, Ms Hanson told protesters in Rockhampton: “I am against the spread of Islam”.

As members of the crowd cheered for her, she told them how she did not like the way Australia was changing.

“We have other different religions that have never been a problem in Australia,” she said. “I see divisions happening in our country and it’s purely based on Islam.  “I’m not targeting Muslims - I’m targeting the ideology, what Islam stands for - and it is very different to our culture and Christianity. “This is a peaceful rally and the rest of Australia will see this.”

Earlier today, she told the Today Show today that the rallies were not “about violence”. Instead, they were about people having the right to actually come and have their say.

“(Reclaim) is people like myself saying to our politicians I’m sick and tired of where you have us headed,” she also said on her official Facebook page.

“It is about being an Australian, being proud of who you are and to maintain our culture, way of life and laws.”

So far, five people have been arrested at a rally by the anti-Islam Reclaim Australia group in Sydney.

As Ms Hanson prepares to run for a seat in the Senate next year, she said her “Fed Up” tour was about touring the country to hear Australians’ concerns.

Whether they are fed up with foreign investment, high taxes, losing our farming sector, Ms Hanson said she planned to go to “remote areas where people feel forgot”.

When asked why she still felt she had support, she told the Today Show: “Because I’ve never given up and the party won’t.  Australians haven’t given up on me. I get so much support Deb that I’m walking around because people say to me, Pauline, you are only saying what we’re thinking but you’ve got the guts to get up and say it.”

Ms Hanson’s comments come as rallies took place across the nation in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.


Reclaim Australia began its demonstration further up Martin Place at 10am.

Police formed a line in front of the anti-racism protesters and several units of mounted officers are around Martin Place. Banners reading “stand with multiculturalism against racism” and “no racism, no Islamophbia” were held high in the cool morning air.

Three people in ancient Greek-like military costumes, including helmets and shields, and four men with Australia flags draped on their shoulders are among about 50 people apparently gathered for the Reclaim Australia protest.

Police had warned those attending the Sydney protests that anti-social or dangerous behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated.

Officers were closely watching both groups and several units of mounted police are also patrolling the area.

Banners reading “stand with multiculturalism against racism” and “no racism, no Islamophobia” were held high by the louder, larger group of anti-racism protesters.

Several people with the Australian flag had gathered at the other end of Martin Place, with police trying to keep a two-block gap between the groups.

NSW Ambulance Paramedics treated two people during the operation, including a 35-year-old man who sustained minor head injuries. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition. A second man, aged 48, was treated for a minor facial laceration.


After violent scenes in Melbourne on Saturday, Reclaim Australia and Stand Against Racism demonstrations in Brisbane were calm.

A strong police presence separated the two groups in Emma Miller Place at the old Roma Street Forum.

Anti-racism protesters chanted loudly to try and drown out the speakers at the Reclaim Australia speakers.

Reclaim Australia protesters claimed they were not discriminatory towards muslim people but the ideals they believed Islam represented.

One woman, Carley Westin, created an “Australian flag burqa” as a way of protesting burqas being worn in Australia.  Ms Westin said the burqa was a way to abuse and oppress women.  She also said Islam promoted child brides, animal cruelty and terrorism.

When the Reclaim Australia protesters had packed up, the anti-racism demonstrators marched down the street and into the cbd.

Queensland Reclaim Australia rallies also took place on the Gold Coast, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.

Queensland political figure George Christensen also attended an anti-Islam rally today.

Mr Christensen, who represents the seat of Dawson, agreed to address a Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay.

He said on his Facebook page he wanted to “support people who seek to defend our Australian way of life, our culture and our freedoms from the threat of radical Islam”.

He said “hell (would) freeze over” before he would give in to those trying to stop him from attending the rally.

Liberal National Party Queensland senator Matthew Canavan said Mr Christensen should be judged by what he says, not who he stands alongside.  “George is perfectly free, big enough, ugly enough to look after himself,” Mr Canavan told ABC Radio.


Drug war failure: Greens want Portuguese model in Australia

This has long been libertarian thinking

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale is calling for bipartisan support to overhaul Australia's drug policy so it is in line with Portugal's, where drug use is treated as a health, not criminal, issue.

The Victorian senator is on a self-funded, fact-finding mission, meeting   policymakers and program developers in the European country.

Since 2001, drug users in Portugal are no longer put through the criminal justice system. The funds saved from enforcement have been used to increase access to drug treatment and prevention, including rehabilitation services, in the country. 

"Individuals [in Australia] who get into trouble with their drug use wouldn't be subject to criminal penalties," Dr  Di Natale said.  "Instead they would front a health panel which gets them into treatment and helps them with other things like housing and employment support."

 Dr Di Natale said there had been no increase in drug use in Portugal since the reforms were introduced.  "Instead what we've seen is a huge decline in all the things associated with harmful drug use," he said.  "We've also seen more people in treatment, fewer drug overdoses, fewer cases of HIV and a decrease in crime."

Dr Di Natale made it clear Portugal had not legalised drugs, with law enforcement still targeting drug dealers.

The Greens leader is co-convenor of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform, a cross party group of about 100 state and commonwealth MPs.

Liberal member for Murray Sharman Stone, another co-convenor of the group, said Australia's current drug policy was not working.  "We need to look very carefully at what other countries are doing, where they have focused on taking what we'd call illicit substances, where they look at them as a health problem," Ms Stone said.  "We'd put the criminals out of business in relation to those drugs."

Ms Stone said Australia did not have any real capacity to rehabilitate people from drug addiction. 

"How many more babies have to be born brain-damaged, how many more women have to be killed by their intimate partners, we have two a week being killed right now, we had that horrific case of that mother in Brisbane where a number of those children were killed," she said. "Just how long do we wait? When is the magic number?"

Ms Stone said she did not know what other members of her party would feel about the approach. "I'm sure there would be a whole range of views, but I know we are united… with a deep concern about the impact of both alcohol and drugs," Ms Stone said.

Labor's co-convenor of the parliamentary group, member for Fremantle Melissa Parke, was overseas and unable to comment on Sunday.  Her spokesman, Josh Wilson, said Ms Parke supported a bipartisan approach to treating drug use as a health issue, rather than a crime.

"The Prime Minister is right in saying that the war on drugs is unwinnable so we need to bring together the best minds in the country to explore alternative models," she said in an earlier press release.

Victoria Alcohol and Drug Association chief executive Sam Biondo said Australia needed to build on its progressive stance towards drugs.  "There has been developments internationally that we can also learn from and consider," he said.  "There is a growing awareness of the failure of the war on drugs."

Mr Biondo said policies where funds were directed into the community and out of "failed" prison systems had been shown to be effective.  "We continue to pursue inappropriate policies that aren't cost effective and are creating a greater impost on the overall community and a negative impact for individuals and their families," he said.


Labor should Ditch emissions trading scheme: Hunt

FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt has some advice for Labor on its proposed emissions trading scheme, which he believes will always be a carbon tax:  "COMPLETELY ditch the policy."

Mr Hunt says it doesn't matter how Labor dresses it up, an ETS is a carbon tax and its intention is to drive up the cost of living for Australians. That rule even applies to the ETS proposed by John Howard in 2007, he said.

Mr Hunt, who once co-authored a thesis called 'A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay', says the only difference between a carbon tax and an ETS is a fixed or floating price. "Either way, it's taxing and driving up the price of electricity," he said.

Labor remains committed to introducing an ETS, with the details to be released prior to the next election. The party insists the policy is not a carbon tax.

The government's direct action plan, and its $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund, pays volunteer polluters not to pollute.


NSW State government ignores 'unschooling' warning

The Premier Mike Baird has ruled out investigating a radical method of home schooling gaining popularity in NSW despite the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry that warned it could be a form of "educational neglect".

The home schooling teaching method, called unschooling, is seen as a natural learning approach, in which children decide what they learn and when and parents give them freedom to pursue their interests.

But a NSW upper house inquiry was highly critical of the method, doubting it could "achieve quality educational outcomes for the child".

A report from the state's parliamentary inquiry into home schooling, prompted by revelations that there could be as many as 10,000 children in NSW being taught at home even though only 3200 are formally registered, urged the NSW Board of Studies to commission research into unschooling.

"The committee is concerned that taken to its extreme, children who are unschooled may not achieve even basic levels of literacy and numeracy. The application of unschooling may constitute educational neglect," the inquiry's report said.

But the government's response to the report, tabled last week in state parliament and signed off by Mr Baird, said it did not support the inquiry's recommendation for independent research into unschooling. The Home Education Association would be better placed to investigate the method, the government said.

The Home Education Association told the inquiry that a survey of home schooling parents showed they used a variety of approaches to educate their children, with about 15 per cent unschooling, 31 per cent using natural learning methods and 27 per cent were "eclectic home schoolers" using a mix of teaching styles.

In its response, the state government agreed to explore allowing home-schooled children to attend public schools part-time but would also not agree to further research into the outcomes of home schooling, arguing only 10 per cent of registered home schoolers choose to participate in NAPLAN.

​"The results of this self-selected group could not be generalised across the population of home schooled children, making further research into the outcomes of home schooling difficult," the response said.

The deputy chairman of the committee, Greens MP John Kaye, said "subjecting children to unschooling raises serious educational and welfare issues" yet Mr Baird did not want any further independent research into its consequences.

"It appears that just asking the questions is too perilous for the Premier and the extreme end of the home-schooling constituency he seems to be protecting," Dr Kaye said.

Dr Kaye said the committee felt there was a lack of objective research on home schooling in Australia and wanted the NSW government to fill that void.

"It is highly unusual for the Premier to sign a government response to an inquiry. This time it looks like he is meddling in a policy area that is increasingly of interest to his conservative Christian power base," Dr Kaye said.

A spokesman for the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, who is responsible for home schooling, said the Premier signed off on the government's response because it was a "whole of government response".


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