Thursday, February 12, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says the Labor party is out of ideas

Closing the Gap report 'profoundly disappointing', Tony Abbott says

Ever since the missionaries were booted out, Aborigines have been going backwards and there is no sign of that changing

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is hopeful the gap in Indigenous disadvantage will be bridged within the next two decades, but concedes the failures revealed in the Closing The Gap report, released today, are profoundly disappointing.

In an address to Parliament, Mr Abbott said the latest Closing the Gap report showed that overall, Aboriginal people were leading healthier lives but he acknowledged difficulties existed in improving Indigenous employment and education.

He said he was committed to working harder to get kids to school.  "As far as I am concerned, there is no more important cause than ensuring that Indigenous people enter fully into their rightful heritage as the first and as first-class citizens of this country," Mr Abbott said.

"We must strive and strive again to ensure that the first Australians never again feel like outcasts in their own country.

"In about 15 or 20 years, hopefully the gap will be closed, hopefully health outcomes will be much the same for Aboriginal Australians and the rest of us."

Closing the Gap 2015 key points

No progress in halving the gap in Indigenous employment outcomes

Small gains in Indigenous life expectancy

Early childhood enrolment target not met

No overall progress on halving reading and numeracy gap

Slower progress on infant mortality gap

On track to halve gap in Year 12 attainment

Mr Abbott reported to Parliament some improvements in education and health outcomes, but said the targets for closing the life expectancy gap, early childhood access, reading and numeracy and employment had either not been met or were not on track.

"Much more work is indeed needed because this seventh Closing The Gap report is, in many respects, profoundly disappointing," he said.


Tasmanian Greenies fighting fracking

A NEW community group formed to raise awareness of fracking will hold a public meeting at Campbell Town next week.

Frack Free Tas is demanding a permanent ban of the controversial mining practice of fracking in Tasmania.  The group joins farmers, winemakers, the dairy industry and the State Government’s Department of Health in raising serious concerns about fracking, which is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock.

The concerns range from the potential for groundwater contamination to degrading the state’s clean, green image.

A State Government imposed 12-month moratorium on the practice ends next month.

Monday’s meeting is at 6pm at the Campbell Town town hall. There will be another public meeting in Hobart on Wednesday and a rally at Parliament Lawns in Hobart on February 28.

PetraGas, a subsidiary of oil and gas company Petratherm, was awarded a petroleum exploration licence earlier this year covering about 3900km2 in central Tasmania.

The state has coal resources, especially in southern and eastern Tasmania.

Cattle and sheep farmer Brett Hall has been a vocal member of a campaign to ­prevent fracking in the ­region. Mr Hall of Lemont, east of Oatlands, said the mining company had not answered questions about environmental risks associated with exploration and drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been used in NSW and Queensland for coal seam gas extraction. Only two shale gas wells have been drilled in Australia.

“Landholders need to know their rights in relation to exploration licences and also what happens when these resources are commercialised,” Mr Hall said.  “We have been able to secure some of the most highly regarded speakers in their area of expertise for the meeting.”

PetraGas says the proposed project would avoid methods that have caused debate interstate.

Managing director Terry Kallis said extractions from Tasmanian shale deposits would involve fracking, but would occur as deep as 1km underground and would pose no risk to aquifers


HRC says children's rights breached

The discredited Gillian Triggs at work again

CHILD asylum seekers should be moved into the community within a month and a royal commission set up into their treatment in immigration detention.

BUT the government has dismissed a Human Rights Commission report making these recommendations as redundant and not based on current circumstances.

The commission's 10-month inquiry into children in immigration detention found prolonged and mandatory detention causes significant mental and physical illness and breaches Australia's international obligations on rights.

There were hundreds of reported assaults against children and 128 teenagers harmed themselves between January 2013 and March 2014.  More than a third of children had serious mental health problems.

The commission wants the government to ban indefinite detention, close the "harsh and cramped" Christmas Island immigration centre, get kids off Nauru and appoint an independent guardian for unaccompanied minors.

It says a royal commission is needed to get to the bottom of how much harm has been done to detained children, why mandatory detention and offshore processing continues, and whether children should be compensated.

"There appears to be no rational explanation for the prolonged detention of children," the commission's report, released on Wednesday, states.  "The mandatory and prolonged immigration detention of children is in clear violation of international human rights law."

The government disputes this.  "This has been a longstanding point of difference between the government and the commission and the government does not accept the commission's findings," Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament.

The government is also critical of the timing of the commission's inquiry, which began in 2014.

It points out the number of children in immigration detention peaked in mid-2013 under Labor, with nearly 2000 kids locked up.   Now there are just 162 children still detained.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton - who only took on the job in late December - says many of the commission's recommendations reflect existing government policies and are "superfluous".

"Other recommendations would mean undermining the very policies that mean children don't get on boats in the first place," he said in a statement.

The report states previous immigration ministers, including Mr Dutton's predecessor Scott Morrison, agree holding children for prolonged periods doesn't deter people smugglers or asylum seekers.


Animal activists face fines under new bill

ACTIVISTS who do not immediately hand over footage of animal cruelty would face a fine under proposed law changes.

THE changes proposed by West Australian senator Chris Back would also prosecute people who trespass onto or vandalise animal enterprises like battery farms and piggeries.

Dr Back, a veterinarian, said his increasing concern over people breaking into properties and endangering animal and human safety inspired him to put the private senator's bill forward. 

"We want to make sure if there is cruelty going on to animals that we have the best option to actually get on top of it, to stop it," Dr Back told AAP.  "If someone's been so motivated that they want to film it, that that visual image can be made available to the appropriate authorities, so indeed if it is happening, it can be used in evidence."

Dr Back said breaking into and vandalising farms or factories put the animals that lived there under "minimal disease conditions" at risk.

Damage to property such as trucks, trailers and buildings also put people in danger and destroyed their livelihood.

"There is no lawful occasion that a person should vandalise other people's properties, threaten them, put them at risk or indeed invade the privacy of their property," he said.

The bill was introduced to parliament on Wednesday.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"No progress in halving the gap in Indigenous employment outcomes"

Gee. Can't imagine why.