Thursday, March 10, 2016
Leftist rubbish below -- from the SMH of course
The return to Iran of "refugees" resettled in Cambodia is hailed as a failure of coalition policy. It is anything but. It shows that the Iranians were NOT genuine refugees and that the government was therefore right not to resettle them in Australia
A married Iranian couple who were once refugees at Nauru have left Cambodia and returned to their homeland despite the potential dangers, in a further sign Australia's $55 million deal with the south-east Asian nation has failed.
The office of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the development on Tuesday, but said Nauru refugees were still encouraged to move to Cambodia.
It means Australia has paid Cambodia $55 million to permanently resettle just two refugees - striking a further blow to the much-maligned deal.
Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the deal had been "botched" and reflected the government's "abject failure" in dealing with asylum seekers.
"Not only has this government wasted $55 million of taxpayers money on this dud deal, they have also left more than 2000 people on Manus and Nauru in limbo for nearly three years on their watch," he said.
"The inability of this government to secure a meaningful resettlement arrangement with a credible third country is a serious failure on the part of [Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull."
The government argues that the asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention are a legacy of the former Labor government, and it has stopped unauthorised boat arrivals.
The Turnbull government has been seeking third countries in which to settle refugees from Nauru, after Australia refused to accept them. Nauru has offered refugees only temporary resettlement.
A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said refugees "can elect to return to their country of origin at any time, which is what an Iranian couple in Cambodia decided to do recently".
"The government remains committed to supporting the government of Cambodia to implement settlement arrangements in Cambodia and encourages refugees temporarily in Nauru to explore this settlement option," she said.
"The government holds firm on our policy that you if arrive by boat then you can either return to your country of origin or be resettled in a third country."
As Fairfax Media reported last week, the federal government says two gay refugees reportedly bashed at Nauru, where homosexuality is illegal, should take up the Cambodian resettlement deal.
The first group of four refugees arrived in Phnom Penh in June last year at a cost to Australia of $15 million, on top of $40 million in increased aid that Australia gave Cambodia to sign the agreement.
However one of those refugees returned to Myanmar. The departure of the Iranians leaves just one from the original group remaining, plus another who arrived last November.
Critics say Cambodia is not a suitable place to resettle refugees because it is impoverished, has been accused of human rights abuses and has no refugee resettlement experience.
Mr Dutton was forced to fly to Cambodia in September last year to salvage the controversial deal, after a Cambodian official declared the nation had no plans to resettle more than the four refugees who had so far arrived.
News outlet Cambodia Daily has reported comments by Sok Phal, director of the Cambodian Interior Ministry's immigration department, as saying the Iranian couple "wanted to return back home. You ask me why, I don't know".
General Phal reportedly said he was not aware of any efforts to guarantee their safe return, and that no other refugees on Nauru had volunteered to come to Cambodia since the Rohingya man in November.
Leftist Victorian government turns their desalination plant on
Expensive but good for the farmers
Victoria ignored advice to order desalinated water in 2012 and regional communities are still paying the price, Water Minister Lisa Neville says.
She's ordered $637 million worth of water - 50 gigalitres - from the Wonthaggi desalination plant, which has sat idle since it was completed.
Ms Neville said the previous water minister, Peter Walsh, had rejected advice in March 2012 to order water from the plant.
"He provided his own little advice, which said that as water minister he thought it was going to rain," Ms Neville told reporters on Tuesday.
It did rain in Melbourne. But Ms Neville said regional communities didn't get the benefit of extra water and they still had severe restrictions.
Nationals leader Mr Walsh said on Sunday the decision to turn the desalination plant on was a political one, designed to save Labor some face after signing a bad contract for the plant in 2009. Victorians pay $1.8 million a day for the plant, whether water is produced or not.
Tree clearing: Indigenous leader Noel Pearson hits out at changes to Queensland's Native Vegetation Act
There's a fair chance the crossbenchers will block this Greenie nonsense
Prominent Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has hit out against the tightening of Queensland's tree clearing laws, arguing the changes could hurt Indigenous people trying to break out of poverty.
The Palaszczuk Government wants to make it harder for landholders, such as farmers, to clear native vegetation to make way for new agriculture projects.
Mr Pearson said landholders, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, were better placed than politicians in Brisbane to say what was best for their land.
He urged crossbenchers to reject any State Government moves to tighten clearing laws.
"My prejudice is on the side of landowners," Mr Pearson told the ABC. "I believe that too many decisions are arbitrarily taken in south-east Queensland for considerations other than proper environmental stewardship. "I'm hugely sympathetic to the position being taken by [farm lobby group] AgForce and other stakeholders here in north Queensland."
The Government is expected to reveal its changes to the Vegetation Management Act next week, but has been criticised for taking more than a year to follow through on the policy, which it announced during the 2015 state election.
However, Mr Pearson challenged the move, arguing it would hold back Indigenous people who want to develop agriculture businesses.
"We have a right to development, and in particular the Indigenous right to development isn't one that has ever been recognised," Mr Pearson said. "We didn't have a chance in the old days to develop our land, we weren't part of the economy, we were marginalised and excluded. "And now that we have our land back, what are you saying to us? That we don't have a right to development?
"We're not going to lift ourselves out of the poverty and misery we live in unless we have balanced development."
In a statement, Queensland's Environment Minister Stephen Miles said the proposed changes to Queensland's vegetation laws were based on science.
"The Palaszczuk Government accepts the science that proves that unsustainable rates of tree clearing are damaging Queensland's environment and our climate," the statement said.
"This isn't about farmers versus conservation."
Tree clearing has been a contentious issue in Queensland for more than a decade, following strict clearing laws implemented under former Labor premier Peter Beattie that ended decades of broad-scale clearing.
The Liberal-National Party under Campbell Newman amended that law to enable farmers to clear native vegetation for the purpose of high value agriculture, such as new cane and cropping ventures.
Mr Miles said the former Newman government had an irresponsible approach to climate change and land clearing.
"Land-clearing rates doubled in Queensland in the first two years of the LNP government," he said.
"Queensland is now responsible for 90 per cent of Australia's emissions from land use.
"Some 36 million tonnes of emissions every year is generated in Queensland alone by land clearing."
Pearson urges crossbenchers to reject reforms
Mr Pearson urged the four north Queensland crossbenchers, who hold the balance of power along with a Sunshine Coast MP, to reject Labor's reforms.
Two MPs from Katter's Australian Party have come out against the reform, and Mr Pearson said the independent member for Cairns, Billy Gordon, should do the same.
"We would be urging him to support the objection to this potential move by the State Government," Mr Pearson said.
"It's death by a thousand cuts, the ability for the people of the Cape - including Indigenous people who now have vast areas of land back on our title - to do anything on that land is severely restricted.
"Our opportunities for our future generations to develop have been cut off at the past, so I just think this is an unfortunate agenda the State Government is pursuing here."
However, Mr Pearson concedes clearing can have a negative impact on the land if not done correctly.
"There has got to be proper processes and assessments and clearances in place," he said.
A fair go means lower taxes
Over the past 40 years the cost of old age pensions as a proportion of average wages has almost doubled. Each generation has demanded more from the next generation than they were willing to give the previous one.
Having reluctantly provided a penny when in employment, retirees believe they are entitled to demand a pound from current workers. Not surprisingly, the pension now exceeds $44 billion a year, with a $50 billion price tag just over the horizon.
Only part of this rising cost can be explained by increases in life expectancy, with taxpayers now funding an additional seven years in retirement on average over 1971.
A bigger factor is government policy. Since 1911, the real rate of the pension has increased seven-fold and the means tests substantially broadened. Despite sitting on more than $700 billion in largely untouched housing assets, the percentage of retirees dependent on the pension remains very high.
As retirees' political power expands, it is foreseeable that by 2055 the per-worker cost of other peoples' pensions will exceed the average worker's contributions to their own retirement. In effect people may soon be paying more for other people's retirement than their own.
To rebalance the pension, the retirement age should be increased by six months every four years to ensure it keeps pace with increases in life expectancy. When coupled with reforms that include the value of the primary residence in the pension means test, this should ensure the pension is focused on alleviating poverty of those who really need it, not just subsidising the transfer of bequests.
In addition, the age at which superannuation can be accessed should be increased in line with pension age to limit those who retire early and fall back on the pension.
Beyond the question of whether we can afford this is another issue: will future taxpayers tolerate a massive increase in taxation to fund a retirement lifestyle they increasingly believe they may never achieve?
Younger workers feel the system is rigged against them, locked out of the housing market and discouraged at the inevitable tightening of generous entitlement they are currently funding. The generational bargain must be fair to both sides if it is to be truly sustainable.