Friday, June 05, 2015

Whistleblowers Warn New Immigration Laws Will Boost Secrecy In Detention Centres

"New Matilda" reports below something that would normally be cause for alarm but fails to look at the bigger picture.  People who took airline flights to Indonesia from places like Pakistan and then got into boats to Australia are not impoverished and desperate refugees.  They are middle-income economic migrants who have deliberately flouted Australia's border controls, fully aware that they cannot reach the standards that Australia requires of immigrants. If it was refuge they needed, they already had it in Pakistan, Indonesia or any other Muslim country. Muslims have a duty of hospitality to fellow-Muslims.

As such they deserve no sympathy and tales of encountering hardship in Australia are likely to deter any others from coming.

I have no idea if such people are harshly treated by officials in detention centres but it seems clear that they do often treat one-another and everyone else badly.  They are unscrupulous Muslim lawbreakers after all.  It also seems clear that some claims of bad treatment arise from "plays" put on to deceive gullible observers and sympathetic Leftists, probably with the collusion of the Leftists concerned. Lying for a cause has always seemed OK for Leftists and Muslims.

So New Matilda has done us all a good turn below by amping up the apprehensions would-be illegals will feel when deciding where to go.  They now mainly seem to be going to countries in S.E. Asia, who are no pushovers.  When that option is recognized as too hard, we need for them not to reconsider Australia

Doctors and contractors who formerly worked in Australia’s immigration detention network say new legislation criminalising disclosures will have a chilling effect, and is designed to deliberately target those wishing to blow the whistle on the conditions and standards of care being provided to asylum seekers.

The Australian Border Force Bill passed the Senate in mid-May with little fanfare, and is ostensibly designed to consolidate Customs and the Border Protection Service into the Department of Immigration.

But the legislation also contained a new two-year jail sentence for employees in the Department and those working for contractors who publicly disclose information.

Dr Peter Young, a former senior employee at private health contractor IHMS – which provides medical services in on and offshore detention centres – told New Matilda there are not adequate pathways in place for whistleblowers to raise their concerns.  “I’m certainly very concerned that this legislation seems to further extend the secrecy and restrictions that affect staff working in immigration detention,” Dr Young said.

Head of Mental Health Services at IHMS for close to three years, Dr Young went public with his concerns about the impact prolonged detention was having on children, providing astounding testimony at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry in July 2014.

Aside from detailing incidents of self-harm among minors, Dr Young told the Commission he had been asked by the Department of Immigration to withdraw figures from IHMS reports that documented increased rates of psychological distress among children in detention.

Dr Young said policy makers who passed legislation discouraging whistleblowing were directly responsible for any harm that would occur as a result.  “I think that it will in some instances have a chilling effect, but the problem is that by introducing policies that make the system even more secretive and less transparent, it increases the risk of more abuse occurring and will inevitably result in more harm being done,” he said.

When the Border Force legislation was debated by the Senate, the Greens moved an amendment allowing disclosures that would not harm the public interest.  It was voted down by Labor and the Coalition, with Nick Xenophon the only non-Green to back it.

Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton as well as Labor MPs, have previously dismissed concerns now coming to the fore about the legislation’s implications for those wishing to speak out about detention centres and their operation.

Senator Kim Carr said Labor had not been consulted on the Greens’ amendment.  “Labor supports the existing whistleblower arrangements and would oppose any attempt to dilute those protections,” he said.

“The advice we have received is that this bill does not include any provisions that would prevent an employee of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, including the Australian Border Force, from making a public interest disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, which is the act that provides protection for whistleblowers.”

But that hasn’t reassured critics, who point to the fact the Public Interest Disclosure Act is relatively weak, and only sanctions a public disclosure where there is an “imminent danger to health or safety” – a very high bar.


'Blackbirding' shame yet to be acknowledged in Australia (?)

So says Emelda Davis, a Kanaka descendant. I fail to see what she is whining about.  She decries the recruiting of Kanakas from their islands and then decries sending them back. Can she have it both ways?  Not that I can see.

The undesirability of recruiting Pacific islanders to work in tropical Australia most certainly HAS been acknowledged in Australia. One of the first acts of the Australian Federal parliament was to pass a law prohibiting the practice and vigorous efforts were then made to return the Kanakas to the islands from whence they came.  Is that not acknowledgement enough or is some breastbeating now needed over 100 years later?

The Kanakas often went into hiding (sometimes among Aborigines) to AVOID being returned to Kanaky.  What does that tell us about the "cruelty" of bringing them to Australia? They obviously thought that the "cruelty" was worthwhile.  Not many avoided being returned but Emelda Davis is the descendant of some who did.  She should be thankful that her ancestors realized when they were on a good wicket

As for the Leftist myth that the recruitment of Kanakas was akin to slavery, it was anything but -- as responsible historians like Veliz and Windschuttle have pointed out, using documents from the time.  See here and here

Leftist historians are determined to convince us that our ancestors were brutes.  They were not.  If you want to find out what they were really like read Lawson's poem about the bullockies.  They were the men who opened up Australia to economic development and civilization.  My late grandfather was a bullocky and I remember him as being exactly like what Lawson described.  Unlike Leftist historians, Lawson knew what he was talking about.  He knew such men

As a second generation descendant of South Sea Islanders (kanaks) who were ruthlessly recruited (blackbirded) to serve in the most appalling conditions as plantation workers in the sugar industry of Australia, I am part of a family of activists who have sought to attain recognition and social justice for my people.

More than 55,000 people, mostly men, were brought from Vanuatu, the Solomons and eighty surrounding islands under what Australia called the indentured labour trade, which was akin to slavery. They were first brought to NSW in 1847 with an influx to Queensland between 1863 and 1904.

My grandfather was taken off the island of Tana in what is now the Tafea Province of Vanuatu in the late 1800s. He was one of the many children whose birth right of freedom was stripped from him at the age of 12 when he was taken to work in the sugar cane fields. He never returned home. The experience and belief of our South Sea Islander communities, passed down through oral histories, is that our forefathers were enslaved regardless of the pretence of contracts. Most definitely this was a legal framework for what was in fact criminal activity, which saw the early deaths of 30 per cent of these "labour recruits", buried in unmarked graves across north-eastern Australia.

It was illegal to bring children under the age of 16 unless accompanied by an adult. However, there are many community stories - including my grandfather's - which contradict those regulations.

In the 1995 documentary Sugar Slaves, my grandfather's story is told by his eldest surviving daughter, Phyllis Corowa. She describes how he escaped deportation from Australia by the 1901 Pacific Island Labourers Act, which inhumanely deported 7000 people en masse, tearing established families and loved ones apart after 40 years living in Australia.

University of Queensland professor Clive Moore has recently written of this; the wages of 15,000 deceased Islanders were used for this deportation and the low and hard-earned wages of the Islanders were used to pay part of their fare to return to the islands that in some cases had seen their entire male population kidnapped.

This was a cruel, heartless process and one of shame to all Australians.

It gives me great pleasure, however, to know that the efforts of my grandfather and our kanaka men and women contributed significantly to building the strong foundations of the sugar, pastoral and maritime industries in Australia and that we are now the third largest sugar provider in the world as well as being one of the wealthiest countries.

Our lobbying has been arduous and has fallen on deaf ears with trinkets of acknowledgement and funding. Our community is 40,000 strong, with 60 per cent Torres Strait Islanders of South Sea Islander descent due to the "labour trade" and the "Coming of the Light" (Christianity) via missionaries, and also east coast Aboriginal Australians, since 40 per cent of whom are married into or have Islander heritage.

Faith Bandler​ and our patron, the Honourable Bonita Mabo​, are amongst the most distinguished of our elders and activists.

Part of our work is to establish a forum to assist Islander communities in the Pacific to gain access to meaningful work opportunities in Australia and to reconnect with our disposed families.

We have a long way to go for the successful establishment of the Islander people within that of the great nation of Australia. It is journey to empowerment that I am proud to be part of.


Marriage traditionalist targeted by activists

MercatorNet contributor and president of the Australian Marriage Forum, Dr David van Gend, returned from a family visit interstate yesterday to find his medical centre in Toowoomba, Queensland, vandalized with graffiti. His name was painted in black along the northern wall of his surgery, and in red letters, “BIGOT”. The matter has been reported to police.

“This sort of abuse is experienced by anybody who stands against the gay marriage juggernaut”, Dr van Gend said, “but usually it is from trolls online, not vandals on the wall of a medical centre.”

“Just the other day a good friend of mine, Lyle Shelton, who heads the Australian Christian Lobby, was called ‘a nauseating piece of filth’ by the political editor of Crikey magazine, Bernard Keane. The editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, reported on the Irish referendum and said ‘Ireland’s tolerant elite now demonise anyone who opposes gay marriage’”.

Dr van Gend is an experienced campaigner in bioethical and political issues and was not shaken by the incident. He used the opportunity to point out that defenders of traditional marriage are often reviled by supporters of same-sex marriage.

“This uncivil behaviour must be nipped in the bud in Australia. It is time for leaders of the homosexual marriage lobby in the Parliament, the community and the media, to condemn this demonizing of their opponents.

“I appreciate the expressions of concern I have received today after this episode”, Dr van Gend said, “but it is an honour to cop abuse when you are defending something as important as the life between mother, father and child. That is what is at stake with same-sex ‘marriage’: it institutionalises same-sex parenting, and that means future children will be forced to miss out on either their mother or their father.

“That is unjust, and that is why our side of the debate will keep defending the truth about marriage and family – especially when we get abused for doing so.”


English test should be mandatory for people wanting citizenship in Australia, says Liberal MP Sharman Stone

People wanting to become citizens in Australia should have to undertake an English language test, Liberal MP Sharman Stone says, in a push to overhaul the current citizenship requirements.

Would-be citizens are currently asked 20 questions in the Australian "citizenship test" about Australia's beliefs, values, its law system and Australian people. Questions are multiple choice and require a basic knowledge of English and Australian laws to pass it.

But Dr Stone says the requirements are "slack" and not rigorous enough, supporting a suggestion in a government discussion paper released last week that would require new citizens to sit an English exam before they are announced as Australians.

The paper also suggests "standardising English-language requirements, to ensure citizens have adequate language ability, taking into account particular circumstances such as age".

Dr Stone said it was not a benefit to the individual, nor for Australia, if people cannot speak English in Australia, drawing from experience at citizenship ceremonies in her Victorian electorate of Murray where she estimates a number of new citizens cannot read, write or speak basic English.

"The citizenship service is a mockery," she told Fairfax Media.

Knowing the basics of the English language is imperative for people to be able to participate in the Australian society, including voting, jury duty or understanding "Australian responsibilities", she said.

"It makes me very sorry when people who come into my office and say they need an interpreter and are feeling alienated," she said.

But Dr Stone said the requirement had "nothing to do with racism".

"This is about people coming to Australia from a non-English speaking background, [and] not necessarily to part and wave them through," she said.


Choice price survey crowns Aldi as Australia’s cheapest supermarket

As always, it pays to be an alert shopper.  Woolworths' canned tomatoes, for instance -- at 59c -- are way cheaper than anyone else's.  And since they are always used in cooking there are unlikely to be any detectable quality differences.  I use them in curry. Choice is what the big two offer. If you really like certain products -- like Jatz biscuits and shredded wheatmeal  biscuits -- as I do -- you won't find them at Aldi.

DISCOUNT grocer Aldi has been crowned cheapest supermarket in a major price survey as the popularity of private labels grows. A grocery basket at the German-owned chain was up to half the cost of major brands at Coles and Woolworths, a Choice study found.

But the dominant duo’s ‘own brand’ ranges can also save their customers at the checkout.

Coles and Woolies shoppers swapping leading brands for the heavyweights’ private label equivalents cut their bill by about a third, Choice said.

“Private labels such as Woolworths’ Select and Coles brand account for 21 per cent of packaged grocery sales in Australia. This will keep going north given cost of living concerns,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

“Reputation has improved, there are more gourmet products, and many people believe the quality is as good as name brands.

“The downside is this can impact choice if smaller or more niche brands are squeezed.”

Aldi’s basket averaged $87.68 nationally compared with big brands that cost $174.97 at Coles and $176.77 at Woolworths, excluding discounts.  IGA was most expensive at $188.61.

Olive oil, dishwasher tablets, laundry powder, frozen fish fillets and cheese blocks had the biggest price gaps.

The mid-tier Woolworths’ Select and Coles brand were used for most private label comparisons.

Choice recorded prices at 93 supermarkets across 17 Australian locations in March.

The basket of 31 items included three fresh foods and common purchases such as bread, cheese, chocolate, canned tuna, toilet paper and frozen peas.

Woolworths — which recently pledged to “neutralise” Coles on price and revamp budget private labels to better compete with Aldi — said comparing “a handful of products” was rarely an accurate way to judge prices.  “When you properly compare like for like products we offer customers a range that competes well,” it said.

Coles said households could save an average $570 annually shopping at the chain compared with six years ago, and it was “absolutely committed to further reducing prices”.

Recent Citi research found Aldi prices were 19 per cent lower than Coles brand but 23 per cent higher than Coles’ budget Smartbuy.

Aldi was 28 per cent cheaper than Woolworths’ Select, but 13 per cent more than Homebrand.


Aldi private label $87.68

Coles private label $114.24

Woolworths private label $119.40

Coles leading brands $174.97

Woolworths leading brands $176.77

Source: Choice. 28 leading-brand products or their private label equivalents across all three chains plus three fresh food items on March 7-8. Prices shown exclude specials.


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