SPRING HILL VOICE
Independent And Unfunded Reportage And Commentary From SEQ And Beyond!
STOP THE WARS! TAX THE RICH!
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, aboriginal educator and activist, Brisbane
* Media Page *
June 1-8: Take part in the week of action for Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning Support Network:
... June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Mannings fourth year in prison and the start of his trial.
The June 1st Ft. Meade protest for Bradley Manning will be the largest action of our campaign! People across the nation (and the globe) will converge on Ft. Meade to stand up for the Army whistle-blower who risked everything to give the public real facts about our governments wars in the Middle East and foreign policy worldwide.
Join Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, LGBT activist US Army Lt. Dan Choi, former US diplomat US Army Col. Ann Wright (ret.), and former soldier Ethan McCordwho rescued the wounded children in the van in the Collateral Murder videoand hundreds of our supporters of heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade. Together well make history.
Save The NHS Rally, London
Image: @OccupyLondon [18/5/13]
Occupy News Network UK [VIDEO - 18/5/13]:
This demonstration has been called by an unprecedented coalition of London residents, medical staff, trade unions and health campaigners who have come together to raise the alarm regarding the biggest threats to A & E's, maternity units and in-hospital care for a generation.
Closures planned across the capital include nine accident and emergency departments, a number of maternity units and thousands of hospital beds that campaigners believe will put lives at risk.
Hospitals and community services are also threatened with take-over by multi-national private companies.
Hundreds of thousands of London residents have pledged their opposition to these privatisation plans for the NHS.
Across the capital, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to protest and demonstrate to save their local hospitals. 80,000 signed a petition against the closures in North West London. 25,000 joined the demonstration to defend Lewisham hospital.
The local campaigns have joined up to call on the government to stop these closures. We are working together to undermine the government's divisive tactics of playing one hospital off against another.
Instead we are demanding that the government provide the funding needed for safe levels of care across the capital.
If you allow the public school and teacher bashing Murdoch Press (North-West News is owned by Rupert Murdoch), the ALP and right-wing unions to monopolise your campaign, you will lose.
Brisbane Times [18/5/13]:
As the sign at Fortitude Valley State School proudly stated it was taking enrolments for 2014, a group of parents were outside fighting to make that pronouncement a reality.
In what Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek described as union-led hysterics linked to the upcoming federal election, a group of about 100 parents and pupils chanted and waved signs at traffic on Saturday morning in a bid to save their school from closure.
Fortitude Valley State School P&C president Tony Holcroft said although the school had just 52 pupils, it was in the middle of a high-growth area.
At the moment theres urban sprawl happening here. Weve got high-density residential buildings going up left, right and centre and itd be a shame to close the school at a time like this when our numbers are actually increasing, he said.
Mr Holcroft said despite the small physical footprint of the school, there was still room to expand.
It has to stay open. Theres no real reason to close it except for the value of the land, he said.
Along with Fortitude Valley, Everton Park State High, Nyanda State High, Old Yarranlea State School, Wyreema State School, Stuart State School, Charlton State School and Toowoomba South State School have been earmarked for possible closure, while Coorparoo Secondary College is set to merge with Brisbane State High.
Mr Langbroek a decision on school closures would be made by the end of July, to give people a clear six months before people have to plan for 2014.
Away from the cameras, Everton Park State High School parents were involved in a similar albeit smaller road-side protest in north-west Brisbane.
Canteen committee volunteer Sue Ellis, who has two children at the school, said EPSHS served an important role in the community.
We want to save our school. Its the best school for kids that arent sporty or really academic she said.
Parent Lauren Millard, whose twins are in Year 8, said she her family would be left scratching our heads about where to go should the school be closed.
Every teacher knows every child by name even the good kids, she said.
Thats unusual and you cant replace something like that. (Moving to another school) would be an emotional upheaval for them.
A Message from Monica Ratliff [Network for Public Education - 12/5/13]:
Here we go again. Another local school board race where the a billionaire a boys Club and Michelle Rhee create a massive war chest to beat an underfunded candidate. Monica Ratliff is a fifth-grade teacher.
Please help her.
Monica Ratliff for Board of Education 2013
Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,
Thank you all for your amazing support of my desire and belief that we can make a difference. Your donations have all been instrumental in our movement to send a message to billionaires from LA to NYC and all the way to Australia.
Yes, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch along will Walmart king pins have all donated to an independent expenditure campaign supporting our opponent to try and buy a seat on the Los Angeles School Board.
Why? Why do they want to invest over 1.7 million dollars? When that much money is spent, how can one not wonder why? ...
Rupert Murdoch Wins Contract to Develop Common Core Tests [Professor Diane Ravitch - 17/3/13]:
Amplify, the company owned by Rupert Murdoch, won a $12.5 million contract to develop formative assessments for Common Core tests.
The award was made by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups funded by the Obama administration to create national tests, administered online. Joel Klein runs Murdochs Amplify division.
When Murdoch purchased Wireless Generation in the fall of 2010, he said:
When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching, said News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch. Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students.
Sparkling Day On The Gold Coast
Refugee takes new freedom challenge to High Court
Canberra Times [18/5/13]:
The federal government is facing another High Court challenge to the indefinite detention of more than 50 refugees deemed security risks by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
The refugee who last year won a landmark judgment in the court against the government and the Immigration Department has issued new proceedings asserting his continuing detention is unlawful and seeking his release.
More than seven months after the court found that the man's detention was based on an invalid regulation, his lawyers say the government has failed to respond to the decision and process his request for a visa.
David Manne, who leads the refugee's legal team, says apparent inaction on the case has compounded the man's sense of hopelessness after 3½ years in detention - and the despair of others whose hopes rose with the October decision.
''Processing of his case seems to have ground to halt,'' Mr Manne said. ''We don't know why. We can't understand why the government [has] found it so difficult to make a new decision within the law.
''But we maintain that the government [has] failed to fulfil their obligations under law following the High Court ruling and that the situation has caused him untold distress and damage.''
A directions hearing in the case is listed for next Thursday in Melbourne.
When Fairfax Media recently visited the man in detention in Melbourne, he said he could not sleep without medication, had witnessed others attempt suicide and was being ''deprived of everything that makes me human''.
Being separated from the wife and child he was forced to leave behind when he fled Sri Lanka seven years ago was ''like a knife in my heart'', he said.
After the court's decision, the man's refugee claim was upheld by the Refugee Review Tribunal and his application for a visa was forwarded back to the Immigration Department.
In response to a letter complaining at the apparent inaction since the High Court decision, a departmental official maintained the man's continuing detention was lawful because ''consideration of his application is presently ongoing''.
While there has been no action in response to the court decision, the refugee's adverse security assessment - and those of more than 50 others with adverse assessments - is subject to a separate review process by retired judge Margaret Stone.
The 37-year-old refugee, who denies he is a threat to anyone, fled his homeland in 2006 and registered his name with the United Nations Refugee Agency in Indonesia in July 2009. After four months of inaction, he paid a people smuggler to take him by boat to Christmas Island and, with 80 others, was taken on board a customs vessel, the Oceanic Viking.
When the Oceanic Viking took them to an Indonesian port, the asylum seekers refused to disembark and a month-long stand-off ended only after a commitment that those found to be refugees would be resettled within another month. Identified as M46, the man has shown Fairfax Media the documents assuring him of resettlement.
''He's made repeated representations to find out what's going on and when he can expect a decision on his refugee case - and the government [has] kept stalling without any real explanation,'' Mr Manne said.
''They keep saying it's complex, but they haven't told us why that is.''
Canberra Times [18/5/13]:
Military police at Australia's detention centre in Afghanistan were pressured to make prisoners more ''pliable'' by gagging them, depriving them of sleep and denying them exercise, Fairfax Media has been told.
Sources with first-hand knowledge of the detention centre at Tarin Kowt said senior officers from Australia's special forces as well as the ''force exploitation team'' - defence intelligence - pressed the detention management team to ''condition'' suspected insurgents ahead of interrogation.
The account given by various sources is among claims that contrast with Defence Minister Stephen Smith's assurances this week that Australia approached its responsibility for treating detainees ''with dignity and respect with the utmost seriousness''.
Other claims included:
A young male detainee, deaf and mute and possibly intellectually disabled, was held in the centre because of pressure from the Special Operations Task Group despite concerns he was not fit to be detained.
A senior Afghan intelligence officer, a Colonel Hanif, complained vigorously that detainees were being transferred from Australian to Afghan custody on scant evidence that they were actually insurgents.
The ADF denied a teenage boy access to his dying father, a suspected insurgent who had been shot during a battle with Australians. The boy was allegedly turned over to US interrogators, although the ADF denies this.
The claims relate to 2010 and 2011, after Australia took over responsibility for managing detainees in Oruzgan province from the withdrawn Dutch troops.
Mr Smith gave a detailed statement to Parliament on Thursday in which he said that Australia took all claims of detainee mistreatment seriously. He said 1898 suspects had been detained between August 2010 and May 15 this year. Over the same period, there had been 198 allegations of mistreatment by the ADF.
Of these, 193 had been deemed unfounded and five were under review.
But Fairfax Media has been told that in the first year Australia was running the detention system, tensions flared between the military police who managed the detainees and the forces who captured and interrogated them.
One source said: ''We had two very conflicting sets of guidelines: one was to treat them humanely but the other was the pressure from the SOTG and intelligence guys who wanted us to condition them in such a way as to make them more pliable so their state of mind was conducive to interrogation. They wanted us to gag and hood the detainees to stop them from talking to each other.''
He said the detention centre's commanding officer had fought that, saying: ''If we gag and hood these guys, someone will die.''
Fairfax Media has put the claims to the Defence Department and is awaiting responses.
Or you could employ some rangers.
And pay them.
Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing Media Release [18/5/13]:
National Parks Minister Steve Dickson is looking for volunteers for the best lifestyle jobs in Queensland. Mr Dickson said as part of the Newman Governments commitment to build on its partnership with park volunteers, the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (NPRSR) was seeking suitable people to live and work in the Daintree National Park as camping hosts.
The Newman Governments Friends of Parks initiative is enhancing volunteering and voluntourism in national parks across the state, as we continue to deliver on our promise to open up national park land for all Queenslanders and visitors to enjoy, Mr Dickson said.
This role will see volunteers camping at beautiful Noahs Beach in the Daintree, just north of Port Douglas, from the end of May through to November, hosting visitors from all over the world.
Volunteers have long supported the management of Queenslands parks and forests, and our staff and visitors benefit greatly from their generous contribution.
Mr Dickson said the seasonal caretaker scheme had worked well in remote and island national parks in other parts of Queensland for some years.
These caretakers are able to assist our rangers with everyday maintenance tasks, freeing them up for other work, he said.
We are looking for volunteers who like the outdoors, enjoy meeting people from around the globe, and are interested in the local environment.
Theyll be responsible for keeping the campground looking great and general maintenance of the immediate facilities and day-use area.
NPRSR will provide an onsite induction and a suitable site for the volunteers tent, trailer or van. There is no pay involved, but caretakers will camp free of charge. ...
NSW Campground Host program:
The NSW Campground Host Program is the perfect opportunity to experience camping in our national parks while providing a valuable service to the public.
Campground Hosts volunteer in selected campgrounds around the state over the Easter and summer holidays and assist NSW National Parks to ensure campers have the best possible camping experience.
It's the perfect chance to enjoy the great outdoors and be a vital part of the campground community.
Applications open every September and January.
Why is delaying the government's ability to siphon money out of weekly pay packets for the benefit of Wall Street is a bad thing for working Australians?
ABC, PM [4/8/10]:
MARK COLVIN: Is your super ripping you off?
An ABC investigation has revealed that the returns on the more than $1 trillion of savings held in the super system are scandalously low.
The ABC has gone beyond the industry research, which looks at the bigger balance funds, to analyse returns on the entire pool of money in the system. And in real terms, the money is going nowhere, barely beating the inflation rate over the past 14 years, and below inflation - going backwards, over the past 10.
The investigation also shows that combined, the generous tax breaks on super and the billions eaten away in fees, cost far more than the age pension.
Economics Correspondent Stephen Long has the story.
STEPHEN LONG: It was Paul Keating's vision; build the savings to make workers secure in their retirement. But over the past decade or more the returns from the superannuation system have been woeful; stagnant or going backwards in real terms.
MARK RAFFERTY: It's not just bad for peoples' pensions it's an absolute economic travesty
STEPHEN LONG: Dr Mike Rafferty is an economist at the University of Sydney who specialists in financial markets and retirement income.
He says that the poor returns revealed by the ABC's research show that as a vehicle for building retirement savings, the super system is fundamentally flawed and failing.
MIKE RAFFERTY: We should start thinking about whether or not the aged pension should be the primary vehicle and start putting more money into that and have super as a second audit.
STEPHEN LONG: At the ABC we've analysed official data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which goes back as far as 1997 and across the entire pot of money in the superannuation system, the average yearly return to mid-2009, is just 3 per cent; that's barely ahead of the average inflation rate over that time, which averaged 2.8 per cent. And over the past decade the returns are below inflation. The returns are a lot less than you would have got for cash in the bank and about half the return on government bonds.
Over those years the money in the super system's almost quadrupled, but the vast bulk of the growth has come from contributions; our money going in, not the money making money.
There's a host of factors behind those poor system-wide returns; volatile markets, with the Asian financial crisis, the tech wreck and the GFC wiping out years of double digit gains. Millions of lost or inactive super accounts being eroded by fees and the sizeable cut being chipped out of super all the way down the line.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: It's a $1.1 trillion industry and out of that there's about $17 billion in fees that are stripped out of it every year.
STEPHEN LONG: Jeff Bresnahan runs SuperRatings, an agency that monitors fund performance.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Quite simply, almost $47/$48 million a day coming out of our superannuation accounts to pay suppliers for managing that money.
STEPHEN LONG: Is that justified?
JEFF BRESNAHAN: I don't think so, no.
STEPHEN LONG: The conflict of interest in the way financial planners are paid to promote super schemes has been in the spotlight but there's been less attention on those who get paid the biggest money, the investment managers.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Quite clearly it's the investment management side of it that is taking the bulk of that income; just over half, or about $9 billion a year.
STEPHEN LONG: So why do the investment managers get paid so much?
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Look it's a good question; you've got to ask yourself, are there underlying costs in the investment management industry that shouldn't be there, or are too high and one of those is obviously salaries; the salary levels in the investment management industry are incredibly high.
STEPHEN LONG: Dr Mike Rafferty.
MIKE RAFFERTY: Average wage and salary earners putting money into super are subsidising massive salaries that go to fund managers.
STEPHEN LONG: The highly salaried stock pickers don't get a flat base fee and a bonus for doing well as you might expect
JEFF BRESNAHAN: They get a percentage of the superannuation fund assets, irrespective of performance.
STEPHEN LONG: So the bigger the pot, the more they get.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: No-one's willing to push the boundaries and say we need to change the way the investment managers are paid.
STEPHEN LONG: At Australia's biggest super fund, they've cut the fees they were paying by sacking most of the investment managers. Mark Delaney is the fund's chief investment officer.
MARK DELANEY: Stock picking is what people call in investment terms a zero sum game; that is for every winner there's a loser.
STEPHEN LONG: Australian Super found that one manager it hired would sell a stock and another one would buy it, with no net gain for the fund portfolio.
MARK DELANEY: So what we are doing is we're paying out fees for something which isn't achieving any outcome.
STEPHEN LONG: Now half the money this fund allocates to Australian share investment is passively managed; it merely tracks the broad share market index and the returns are just as good, with fewer fees.
Fees are one super-sized issue; another, the massive tax breaks to encourage people to put money into super, which overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.
ALEX DUNNIN: Well the cost of superannuation tax concessions in total in Australia is about $26 billion; that's almost as much as the cost of the aged pension itself.
STEPHEN LONG: Alex Dunnin is research director at Rainmaker, a specialist information company that analyses superannuation.
ALEX DUNNIN: It brings up the question; who gets the most benefit from those tax concessions? Well that's really saying who gets the most benefits from paying less tax? Well people who pay a lot of tax now, meaning people who earn a lot of money.
MIKE RAFFERTY: You know, I have to ask the question; why would we spend more on the fees and charges and subsidies to super, than it cost to run our current pension system?
The review of the super system chaired by former ASIC commissioner Jeremy Cooper addresses some of these questions, but not all.
MARK COLVIN: Stephen Long.
Can The Taxpayer Afford Self-Funded Retirement? - Dr Richard Denniss and David Richardson, The Australia Institute [15/8/12]:
Australian taxpayers contributed $30.2 billion to the private accounts of that portion of the population with superannuation 2011-12. By 2015-16 this sum is projected by Treasury to rise to more than $45 billion by which time it will be, by far, the single largest area of government expenditure.
By 2015-16 the taxpayer contribution of $45 billion to private superannuation balances will account for almost twice the $24 billion projected to be spent on defence in that year. Indeed, the $45 billion subsidy is almost as much as the $51 billion provided by the Commonwealth to the states in 2012-13 and territories to provide health, education and other essential services.
By 2015-16 the annual cost of taxpayer contributions for private superannuation will again exceed the annual cost of the age pension. That said, from that point on, taxpayer subsidies for superannuation are likely to grow significantly faster than the annual cost of providing the age pension.
According to Treasury the top five per cent of income earners receive 37 per cent of all superannuation tax concessions. While comprehensive data matching individuals wealth and income is not available we do know that the net worth of the highest income quintile (that is, wealthiest 20 per cent of the population) was $2.2 million per household in 2009-10. The non-housing assets of that top 20 per cent averaged $1.4 million.
Given that the assets test for the age pension currently means that no pension is payable to a single person with assets of more than $696,250 (excluding the family home) it would appear that a significant proportion of tax concessions for superannuation are going to individuals who will almost certainly be ineligible for the age pension.
While we know from Treasury that a disproportionate share of the benefits of tax concessions for superannuation accrue to the highest income earners we also know from the ABS that none of the benefits go to Australias lowest income earners.
Despite Australias superannuation system often being described as universal in fact a substantial portion of the working age population does not make contributions to superannuation and, in turn, receive none of the $30 billion available to boost retirement incomes.
Superannuation tax concessions can only boost the retirement incomes of those who contribute, and it boosts those income proportionate to the level of contribution.
Put simply, superannuation tax concessions are designed in such a way that the more income a person earns the more taxpayer support they will receive. Those Australian who cannot work receive nothing.
While it is possible that such an inequitable system design maximises the capacity of the superannuation tax concessions to take pressure off the age pension such an outcome is highly unlikely, especially as it is low income earners who are the most likely to rely on the age pension and very high income earners who do not.
The belief that the tens of billions per year spent on taxpayer contributions to private retirement accounts takes pressure off the commonwealth budget may be widespread but the source of this belief is not well documented.
The sheer size, and rate of escalation, of the cost of tax concessions for superannuation combined with the small reduction in the expected number of retirees who do not receive the age pension make clear that it is unlikely that the current subsidies will deliver long run savings for the overall budget.
That said, a closer look at the detailed design features of the current superannuation arrangements make clear that the architects of the system had goals that are quite divergent from minimising the future cost of the age pension.
Consider the following:
If the Howard and Costello Government were worried about the impact of baby boomers on the cost of providing the age pension why did they substantially loosen the age pension means and assets tests in 2007?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people access their super at 55 when they cannot access the age pension until they are 65?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people take their super in the form of a lump sum, spend it all, and still be eligible for the age pension?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people who already hold more assets than the amount prescribed in the assets test continue to make concessional contributions?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why dont the poorest third of the population, the third of the population most likely to rely solely on the age pension, receive any of the $45 billion contributions?
If the cost of providing tax concessions for superannuation are greater than the cost of providing the cost of providing the age pension how could substituting the former for the latter save the government money?
Whatever the rationales for the creation of the current system of tax concessions for superannuation, minimising the future cost of the age pension does not appear to be among them.
Perhaps members of unions and industry bodies deserve to have a say before their money is wasted on advertising?
... State Parliament is considering legislation that requires unions and employer groups to conduct a formal ballot of all members, before spending more than $10,000 on political campaigns.
Mr Bleijie says he met concerned groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), this week.
Today the CCIQ's Nick Behrens says the proposed changes would prove unworkable and costly.
"The red tape aspect of this bill on our organisation alone is $150,000," he said.
John Battams from the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) agrees.
"It'll be one of the few times where on many points the employers and the unions will be singing from the same song sheet," he said.
Mr Bleijie says he is willing to consider amending the legislation if affected groups think it is too extreme.
He says he is also happy to speak with Mr Battams.
"We've gone to the extreme - if we can be convinced to pull it back a little bit, more than happy to look at it and work with the unions on it and work with the employer groups just as I did yesterday," he said.
"If Mr Battams wishes a meeting all he has to do is pick up the phone.
"They understand there needs to be accountability.
"I think we'll be able to get a balance and I'm happy to negotiate with the unions and employer groups to get that right."
Video: Gasfield Realities Water and Human Suffering
Coal Seam Gas News [17/5/13]:
Gasfield Realities 1 Water and Human Suffering
Gasfield Realities 2 Community Divisions and the failure of QLD Health
You're to Blame for Factory Deaths. Well, You and Walmart
Jim Naureckas [FAIR - 17/5/13]:
The New Yorker's James Surowiecki (5/20/13) has figured out who's to blame for unsafe working conditions for garment workers: people who wear clothing.
"The problem isn't so much evil factory owners as a system that's great at getting Western consumers what they want but leaves developing-world workers toiling in misery," Surowiecki writes:
Most of us have a sense that low prices in Dubuque have something to do with low wages in Dhaka, but that's just one aspect of the pressure that we as consumers exert on global supply chains. Our insatiable demand for variety and novelty has led to ever-shorter product life cycles.
Surowiecki is saying that it's this "pressure," the "insatiable demand" from consumers that leads to unsafe working conditions. To explain, he brings in MIT political scientist Richard Locke, who says, "Often, the only way factories can make the variety and quantity of goods that brands want at the price points they're willing to pay is to squeeze the workers."
Well, wait"that brands want"? At the prices "they're willing to pay"? What happened to the consumers and our demands being to blame?
OK, Surowiecki is willing to concede that giant multinational corporations share some of the blame:
Just as most Western consumers seem reluctant to pay more for T-shirts, most Western companies have been reluctant to take real responsibility for what happens on their suppliers' factory floors . As long as consumers and companies insist on the lowest price and endless variety, there'll always be factories that are willing to cut corners to get the business.
The thing about equating "consumers and companies" in this way, though, is that when you say that consumers "insist" on something, it's basically a metaphor. As a consumer, you go to the store and see what they're selling, and you either buy it or you don't; you don't usually get to tell the sales clerks to change the price, and you certainly don't get to tell them how to arrange their supply chains. Whereas global apparel companies really can and do insist that factories produce goods on specific schedules at particular pricestheir "demand" is not metaphorical at all.
If consumers do have the ability to insist that clothing be sold at a particular pricewhich in some metaphorical sense we do, through the far-fr0m-perfect mechanism of supply and demandthis insistence certainly doesn't specify that garment workers should typically receive 1 to 3 percent of the retail price in wages, or that clothing stores be among the most profitable of retail industries. That division of revenues is the result of the non-metaphorical demands that corporations make.
Could consumer outrage over the way corporations treat workers result in changes in that treatment? Possiblythough news coverage that is framed in terms of shifting blame from "evil factory owners" to "our insatiable demand" seems calculated to dissipate outrage rather than mobilize it.
Arrest, Pacific Pines
QPS Media [17/5/13]:
Police have charged a man following the alleged break and enter of a Helensvale home overnight.
Sometime during the night, while the occupants were asleep, the home was broken into and two sets of car keys were stolen. The keys were used to steal a Ford utility and a Nissan four wheel drive which were parked in the garage and driveway.
Around 8.30 this morning police located the Ford utility parked outside a residence in Gould Place, Pacific Pines.
Police conducted a search of the residence and found a 25-year-old man hiding in the ceiling.
A set of stolen keys and other property including lap top computers were located.
The man has been charged with burglary, receiving tainted property, possession of tainted property, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlicensed driving.
He remains in custody and is due to appear before the Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow. ...
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.
For all non-urgent police reporting or general police inquiries contact Policelink on 131 444.
Milos Roanic, Grigor Dimitrov and Bernard Tomic featured in new Men´s Journal issue
Tennis World USA [16/5/13]:
Some of the leading young men on the ATP circuit have been featured in Men's Journal magazine.
The new issue of the magazine has a feature titles Hit Squad" - which talks about young and up coming players on the men's ATP circuit.
Among those included in the feature are world no. 14 Milos Roanic, world no. 29 Grigor Dimitrov, world no. 53 Bernard Tomic, the American Harrison brothers Ryan and Christian, David Goffin and Ricardas Berankis.
Dimitrov is described as. Called little Federer for his fluid strokes, hes a perpetual threat, particularly on hard court, with a dangerous topspin forehand and a creative, some say restless, style of play, writes Mark Healy.
On the Harrison brothers, the feature says, "When he was 11, Harrison met his tennis-pro dad in the finals of the Shreveport City Tournament (his father won), and they knew Ryan needed more competition. When big brother Ryan was battling Dad in the Shreveport City Tournament, nine-year-old Christian was in the stands pouring Coke on his little sister. Hes since learned to pay the game some respect, competing in his first year on the pro tour and playing doubles with Ryan.
... If people actually knew what was happening they would be really pissed off.
They should be. ...
Barbara A. Brenner, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action, San Francisco
Pink Ribbons, Inc. (2012)
Breast cancer has become the poster child of cause-related marketing campaigns. Countless people walk, run and shop for the cure, believing they are doing good. Each year, millions of dollars are raised in the name of breast cancer, but where does this money go and what does it actually achieve?
Written and directed by Léa Pool and produced by Ravida Din, Pink Ribbons Inc. is a feature documentary from the National Film Board of Canada that shows how the devastating reality of breast cancer becomes obfuscated by a shiny, pink story of success that marketing experts have labeled a dream cause.
Celebrity Breasts and Corporate Gene Patents
Karuna Jaggar, Breast Cancer Consortium [15/5/13]:
Angelina Jolies op-ed in The New York Times was big news yesterday. Jolie shared her family history of cancer, her own genetic mutation, and her choice to have prophylactic surgery agonizing decisions faced by other high risk women.
But this is a bigger, more sinister story than one of a celebritys personal medical decision. Jolie insists that all high risk women need access to gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live and notes that the $3,000+ test is out of reach for too many women.
What she does not talk about is why the cost of the test is out of reach for many women.
Myriad Genetics holds patents on the human BRCA1 & 2 genes and therefore is the only company that offers the BRCA test. Other companies say they could provide a better test for a few hundred dollars but this monopoly gives Myriad control over research, testing, diagnostics and development of treatments related to the BRCA genes.
In 2009, Breast Cancer Action joined researchers, genetic counselors and cancer patients in a lawsuit to overturn Myriad Genetics patent on the so-called breast cancer genes. The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court and we expect a ruling this summer.
In describing her surgery, Jolie is focused on reassuring high risk women who might be considering a prophylactic mastectomy that the surgery is manageable and perhaps not as bad as they might fear. She discusses how small the scars are. She talks about beautiful results. She insists just days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
In explaining why she is happy with her own choice, Jolie does not explore the many and varied side effects and risks of the surgery she chose. Surgery always comes with risks and disclosures. In addition, breast implants are considered high risk devices by the FDA. Four out of ten women who have had a mastectomy will need additional surgery within three years of getting implants.
The effects of surgical oopherectomy (removal of ovaries) on pre-menopausal women are even more serious.
These women are thrown into immediate menopause and the subsequent effects which range from the discomfort of hot flashes to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and other negative health consequences.
None of this is to pass judgment on or criticize Jolies own medical decision but rather to highlight the importance of a balanced discussion, one that includes consideration of the full range of risks and side effects.
Jolie shares her own story with the world. She does notnor should sheprovide balanced medical counsel.
However happy Jolie feels with her decision, too many women struggle with what they feel are all around bad choices. The call for better options comes both from women at high risk of breast cancer and from women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer associated with BRCA mutations cloaks an important observation. Not every woman with a mutation will develop cancer in the course of her life.
As we grapple with a breast cancer epidemic in this country, we need more research into the mechanisms of breast cancer and true prevention. After 30 years of breast cancer awareness, we are in a perverse situation where the average woman vastly overestimates her individual risk of breast cancer.
Most women with breast cancer do not have an inherited genetic mutation. For those who do, there is no question that access to the genetic test and accompanying genetic counseling, free of corporate influence, provides potentially life-saving information.
Whether high risk or average risk, all women need access to quality information free of corporate influence and appropriate health care based on their individual choices.
Behind Jolies publicity grabbing personal story, is the fact that one corporation owns the BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes.
I invite Jolie to join those working to outlaw human gene patents, to call for more research into mechanisms of breast cancer, to demand access to information and health care, and to ensure that every woman can make her own health decision after weighing risks and benefits according to her own individual values and priorities. ...
The Fight to Take Back Our Genes [ACLU]:
Did you know that private companies can patent genes in your body? A company called Myriad Genetics "owns" two genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA2 or Breast Cancer 1 and Breast Cancer 2. Women with certain mutations in these genes have a strong chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.
This has very dangerous implications for womens health and scientific research.
The government should not be granting private entities control over something as personal and basic to the human body as our genes. Moreover, granting patents that limit scientific research, learning and the free flow of information violates the First Amendment.
The ACLU argued the case against gene patents before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 15, 2013. We expect a decision this summer.
Maurice Blackburn Media Release [4/3/13]:
Today Maurice Blackburn has lodged an appeal in the Federal Court against the decision of Justice Nicholas made on 15 February, 2013 about the patenting of human genetic material.
(Cancer Voices Australia v Myriad Genetics Inc  FCA 65)
Rebecca Gilsenan, principal at Maurice Blackburn said:
"We believe we have a good basis to appeal the decision that isolated human genes are patentable. We intend to continue the challenge to the monopoly created by the patent held by Myriad and to refute the point that isolated human genes area "manner of manufacture" and an "artificial state of affairs."
The appeal is likely to be heard later this year.
Yvonne D'Arcy, applicant in the case said:
"I won't give up the fight - we need to continue for future generations of people who at some point in their life, may need treatment for cancers and other diseases."
The test case against two biotech companies including Myriad Genetics Inc. and Melbourne-based Genetic Technologies Ltd was launched in June 2010 by Maurice Blackburn on behalf of Cancer Voices Australia and Ms D'Árcy.
Cancer Voices is not an applicant in the appeal.
The case was heard by Justice Nicholas, over five days in February 2012. It centred on the patent (Patent 686,004) and in particular the claims in that patent to mutations of a gene known as BRCA1.
When these mutations exist on the BRCA1 gene they are associated with an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Surfers Paradise [17/5/13]
Cross Fire Tattoos, Surfers Paradise Boulevarde
Crossfire Tattoos GCT [Facebook]:
Due to light rail I'm sorry to say but crossfire is in its final days of operation, we will be closing our doors until the disaster called light rail is completed. This could be up to 4 mths or more considering we are relying on the Gold Coast council. Our artists will be operating from skin fx tattoos and anyone looking to get work off us can ring them 55921905 or crossfire 55703344 as it will be redirected to fx. Sorry to all clients.
Hong Kong: Dozens hurt as light rail train derails
More than 60 people have been injured after two coaches of a light rail train derailed near Hang Mei Tsuen and Tong Fong Tsuen stations in Tin Shui Wai.
Those injured in the train derailment were carried out of the wrecked cabin after the accident.
The driver was trapped and had to be rescued by firemen. Most of the injured suffered minor bruises to their limbs and were treated at the scene. But some who suffered more serious injuries were sent to Tuen Mun Hospital for treatment.
One passenger said the train was going quite fast and was making a turn on Ping Ha Road when the incident occurred.
The accident forced the temporary suspension of light rail services.
What does "excising the mainland from the migration zone" mean?
Migrant Law [16/5/13]:
Whatever it means, it doesn't mean what it says. The "migration zone" is that part of Australian territory where anyone who is not an Australian citizen needs to have a visa. To any ordinary speaker of the English language, the act of excising something from a particular zone would mean that place was no longer in that zone. So no one would need a visa in the excised bits.
Not so in the weird world of Migration Speak. ...
Resistance is not terrorism.
End the torture of innocent men in #Gitmo now!
Image: @akaWACA - WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance [17/5/13]
Protest at US Consulate, Melbourne
Attorney-General welcomes Court of Appeal decision
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Media Release [17/5/13]:
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie has welcomed the Court of Appeals decision to allow a Moranbah motels appeal against a sex worker.
Mr Bleijie said a QCAT decision in July 2012 had ruled the motels owners had breached the Anti-Discrimination Act by denying a legal sex worker a room.
Common sense prevailed today with the Court of Appeal setting aside that QCAT decision, Mr Bleijie said.
This is a win for business and common sense.
I joined this fight as a friend of the court because I support business owners ability to decide about what does or does not occur on their premises.
The Newman Government recently amended the Anti-Discrimination Act to allow hotel and motel operators to refuse sex workers accommodation or evict them if they have reason to believe they are operating a business from their premises.
Regardless of todays outcome, businesses would have been protected from this ever happening again.
If someone is running a business out of a hotel or motel room and the operator or manager receives complaints from other patrons, they should be able to do something.
We have levelled the playing field so the laws suit the majority not the minority.
... Sex is not a kind of work, stripping is not a kind of work and neither is pornography. They are kinds of abuse. It would be great if society could see it for what it is and stop using the term sex work, which they see is politically correct.
Call it what it is prostitution, stripping, pornography, but separate the woman from what she does. She is not what she does. She is still a woman. So dont call her a prostitute, a stripper, a pornstar/actress.
Instead, call her a woman who is in prostitution, a woman who is in stripping, a woman who is in pornography. Dont let her label become who she is and define her. She is a woman no more or less special than any other. She is deserving of the same respect as any other woman.
For women in prostitution, pornography and stripping and who want to call themselves sex workers that is their choice. Just like it was my choice and my friends choice to use terminology that made it seem okay to us our words being hookers, escorts and call girls.
I am not here to tell those women what to call what they do, but I am asking society not to feed into that denial, not to let that denial spread and normalise abuse against women by calling it work.
Tweed Daily News [20/3/13]:
A man who allegedly sexually assaulted a Banora Point sex worker has been released on conditional bail because the jails are full and he is aged, a magistrate has said.
Yesterday, sitting in the Lismore Local Court Magistrate R Denes told the court an analysis of forensic material required could take months.
She said another consideration in granting bail was that the prisons were full.
The 67-year-old Gold Coast man was charged with aggravated sexual assault inflicting actual bodily harm on a victim and reckless grievous bodily harm.
The 46-year-old sex worker suffered extensive internal injuries during the alleged assault when the accused inserted his entire fist inside her last week, police said at the time of the accuseds arrest.
The man was extradited from Miami and arrested by Tweed police officers and charged with aggravated sexual assault and recklessly inflict grievous bodily harm.
He appeared at the Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday and was refused bail before appearing again in court Yesterday.
Yesterday, the prosecution apposed bail arguing for the protection of the victim.
But the defence for the accused said the man's health and age needed to be considered.
It was also argued the accused had strong community ties in Miami community, as he'd lived there for seven years.
Magistrate Denes granted conditional bail that required the man to report twice daily to Burleigh Heads police station.
He was told not to approach or make contact the victim, not to travel to Banora Point or Tweed heads and not to go to airports with international departures.
He was further required to enter into an agreement to forfeit $1000 if he broke his bail conditions
The man's daughter offered to lodge between $5000 to $7000 and is required to lodge $3000 to satisfy the bail requirements
Magistrate Denes ordered a brief of evidence to be prepared by May 7th.
The case was adjourned to May 21 at Lismore Local Court.
Southern Hemisphere's largest animal health conference comes to Cairns
AVA Media Release [17/5/13]:
From treating obese cats, pet sheep and phobias in dogs to emerging reptile diseases, global threats to the horse industry and the future of animal welfare and emerging technologies in veterinary medicine, theres something for everyone at Australias largest animal health conference in Cairns 26-31 May.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Annual Conference will bring together over 1100 people in the vet profession from throughout Australia and overseas, for a week of presentations on the future of the health, behaviour and welfare of Australian pets, wildlife, horses and livestock.
With 120 presenters including nine international speakers, 85 exhibitors and trade stands and more than 200 sessions, its the nations premier veterinary event.
Leading international welfare and behaviour expert, Dr Temple Grandin, who was honoured in TIME Magazines The 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010, joins the international line-up of speakers including Jon Bowen, Dr Jim Stowe, Dr Bayard Rucker, Dr Genevieve Fontaine, Dr Stephanie Hansen, Dr Steve Marsden and Dr Dwayne Rodgerson.
Conference highlights include:
The human element of obesity and anxiety in cats; factors affecting owner satisfaction with their dog; epilepsy in dogs; palliative care and end of life decisions; nuclear medicine in small animal practice.
Tick paralysis in horses; emerging threats to the Australian horse industry; equine infectious diseases; Hendra virus study.
Impact of feral pigs in Far North Queensland; feral pigs as exotic disease reservoirs; future of Australian cane toads.
The future of science in the Australian Veterinary profession and emerging technologies and treatments.
The future of the veterinary profession Craig Rispin.
Thinking like an animal and humane slaughter Dr Temple Grandin.
The AVA Conference is being held 26-31 May at the Cairns Convention Centre. To view the complete program visit http://conference.ava.com.au/
Australian politician knocked down by kangaroo
Jakarta Post [17/5/13]:
An Australian politician taking his morning jog through the national capital came out second best Thursday after crossing a kangaroo.
Shane Rattenbury, a minister in the Australian Capital Territory government, which administers the city of Canberra, said he was running on a sidewalk in inner-suburban Ainslie and was only seconds away from a collision before he saw the eastern gray kangaroo at the end of a hedge grazing on a front lawn.
We both got a nasty fright, and of course when kangaroos are startled, they lash out, the 41-year-old said. As the kangaroo sought to escape, it landed on me, and its claws dug into my leg, he added.
Rattenbury said the 1.4-meter kangaroo knocked him to the concrete sidewalk, the claws of its powerful hind legs drawing blood with two scratches to his left leg. His right leg was painfully bruised by the sidewalk.
A passer by noticed Rattenbury was injured and drove him home. His mother heard of her sons plight on a radio news bulletin and took him to a hospital, where a nurse cleaned his wounds and gave him a tetanus shot.
The nurse who treated me had treated someone before who had been scratched by a kangaroo and ended up with a very bad infection, Rattenbury said. So she was quite keen to give it a good clean-out.
Rattenbury limped into the ACT parliament a few minutes before the session began and more than three hours after his painful brush with nature.
Surely today is the day Australian journalists and their union ought to reassert their views on media access to immigration detention centres?
Image: Proverb Hunter
Media access to detention centres [Media Alliance]:
In the Senate yesterday, the coalition and the government blocked a Greens amendment to the Migration Act to give media access to offshore detention centres.
Senator Kate Lundy said that the government allowing media access to offshore processing centres would undermine the sovereignty of PNG and Nauru.
PORT MORESBY - A legal challenge to the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre will face dismissal proceedings in Papua New Guinea's courts next month.
Supreme Court judge Steven Cassman on Tuesday ruled the case will go before a three-judge panel after June 24.
The three are expected to decide whether the challenge, brought by PNG opposition leader Belden Namah, can go ahead.
Lawyers for the government of Peter O'Neill filed an objection to Mr Namah's challenge on April 16.
"The parties are agreed that the next step will be the hearing of that challenge," said Ian Malloy, a lawyer representing the PNG government.
Lawyers for Mr Namah said previously that government lawyers had not met with them to discuss the case, leading to a series of delays.
They have also said if the challenge in its current form is dismissed it will free them to try again at a later date.
The Australian government says it expects to start construction of a permanent detention facility on Manus in July.
More than 270 asylum seekers are currently being housed in widely-criticised conditions at a temporary facility on Manus' Lombrum Naval base.
The court will meet briefly on June 3 to set a date for the dismissal proceedings.
Doing the Deed: Journalists Access to Detention Centres
A special Australian Centre for Independent Journalism forum on reporting inside detention centres.
Huge marketing push on ABC Gold Coast today for Minister Langbroek and a new private special needs school
No mention at all of existing public special needs schools [Southport Special School was established in 1970] or the need for, and funding arrangements of, the new school.
Special School, New facilities:
During 2013 new facilities will be built adjacent to Musgrave Hill State School to replace the library and increase the number of classrooms.
The purpose built facility will include seven classroom spaces, kitchens and staff rooms. The additional classrooms are to accommodate student enrolment growth.
... Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream ...
'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.
Trade union membership steady
Australian Bureau of Statistics [17/5/13]:
The proportion of employees who were trade union members in their main job has been steady at 18 per cent for the last three years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
There were 1.8 million people in August 2012 who were trade union members in their main job.
ABS Director of Labour Force, Cassandra Gligora, said the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership survey collected the distribution of weekly earnings of employees, their entitlement to paid leave, superannuation contributions made by employers and trade union membership.
"The survey shows a higher proportion of public sector employees were trade union members in their main job (43 per cent), compared to private sector employees (13 per cent), and full-time employees (20 per cent) were more likely than part-time employees (14 per cent) to be trade union members," Ms Gligora said.
"Just under two thirds of trade union members had been a trade union member for five years or more and one in ten had been a member for less than a year," she said.
There were 1.3 million employees who were not currently members of a trade union, although they had been in the past. Of these, three quarters (77 per cent) had not been a trade union member for at least five years, while 5 per cent had not been a member a year or less. A further 6.8 million employees had never been a trade union member. ...
Mount Isa kids urged to have lead level checks
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young is calling for an increase in the number of children having their lead levels tested in the north-west mining city of Mount Isa.
In 2008, 400 children were tested for exposure to lead, with 11 per cent having elevated levels and some so high they had ongoing developmental issues.
Dr Young wants children under the age of five who undergo a blood test at the Mount Isa Hospital to have the option of checking their lead levels at the same time.
She also wants the State Government to trial the option of a pinprick test, over more abrasive methods.
"It's not as accurate in some ways as having the full blood test done, because sometimes there can be contamination of the skin and it picks that up instead of the lead that's in the blood," she said.
"But it's a good way of screening children and it might be less distressing so parents might be more prepared for their child to be tested."
Blood lead results
2006-07 - 400 children tested, 11 per cent with elevated lead levels
2008-09 - 140 children tested, 7.1 per cent with elevated lead levels
2010 - 167 children tested 4.8 per cent with elevated lead levels
2011 - 119 children tested 3 per cent with elevated lead levels
2012 - 54 children tested 3 per cent with elevated lead levels
Source: Qld Health
Dr Young says those methods could provide more data on the issue.
"There's two ways of looking at it - maybe parents have had their kids tested and are happy with their results and don't feel the need for additional tests," she said.
"Maybe it's that they're confident in what they're doing so that's why we're also going out and doing an evaluation in the town of what people's understanding is about lead."
She says the new methods to test lead levels will be in place in Mount Isa before the end of the year.
Dr Young says there is no room for complacency.
"There's been a lot of work done to make sure that parents and residents of Mount Isa in general understand the issues about living in a mining town and what that means for the health of particularly young children," she said.
"We know a lot of work's been done and we really want to get a good idea of these lead tests of young children whether they've been successful."
The Mount Isa Lead Health Management Committee, which Dr Young sits on, will survey the local community to gauge their understanding about how to reduce lead exposure in children.
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady says most people who live in the city understand what they need to do to reduce their lead exposure.
"This is a healthy community and we understand and appreciate that living here we have to take certain precautions which the bulk of our people do and when you see the statistics what I'm saying is proven," he said.
At UN debate, experts weigh clean energy, water strategies to halt runaway climate change
UN Media Release [16/5/13]:
With dire warnings likely to match or exceed the worst fears about the effects of global warming, environment and development experts gathered today at United Nations Headquarters to debate the twin challenge of curbing climate change while sustaining economic growth.
The fundamental challenge of our time is to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor without ruing the environmental basis for our survival, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic said as he opened the Thematic Debate Sustainable Development and Climate Change: Practical Solutions in the Energy-Water Nexus.
We need to embrace the path to sustainability, crafting a new global partnership in which no nation is left behind, and no country opts out, he told the gathering which featured UN officials, a host of environment and energy Ministers, as well as a diverse mix of experts that included Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Colombia Universitys Earth Institute, and Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Mr. Jeremic set the tone for the day-long discussion by telling the participants that scientists have confirmed some of the worst fears with the recent determination that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen above 400 parts per million for the first time in more than three million years. The evidence is overwhelming: global temperatures are rising and extreme weather events are becoming commonplace, he said.
We cannot afford business as usual for growth along the current path will lead us to catastrophe, not riches, he said.
To safeguard the world from runaway climate change, he said the international community will need to de-couple economic growth from our dependence on carbon-based energy systems, which currently provide 80 percent of our primary power needs.
Yet, as the concentration of C02 increases, the Earths ecosystems will change with perilous rapidity. Freshwater sources will decrease as rivers and aquifers dried up.
Highlighting the link between water and energy, he stressed the need to invest in innovative technologies and strategies to ensure countries can continue growing economically without harming the environment.
Our water problems are closely linked to our energy problems. Water supply requires large amounts of power, whether for pumping, treatment, or desalination. Similarly, energy supplies often critically depend on water for hydroelectricity, cooling, or irrigation for biomass, he said.
We need more energy, not less, to end poverty and raise global living standards. But that power must be low carbon, if we are to remain within planetary boundaries. New technologies are required in order to remake the energy delivery systems so that by mid-century, they produce perhaps three times todays output, but with less than half of the emissions.
In addition to new technologies, Mr. Jeremic said there are also organizational and economic challenges, as Governments must give the right incentives to the private sector to rationalize water use and switch to low-carbon energy systems.
This calls for a new direction and new strategies. I believe this debate can be an important step in moving us closer to the post-2015 starting line, by directing our attention to the innovative science, cutting-edge technologies, and new business models related to the energy-water nexus.
The debate is part of the commitments made by countries last year at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in which countries pledged to implement measures to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable developmentnamely economic, social, and environmental.
We have the tools to save the planet from human-induced environmental devastation. What we lack, however, is a fundamental commitment to use them in coherent ways, as well as a full appreciation of how little time we have left before it gets too late, Mr. Jeremic added.
Federal fraud cases drop by 39 per cent
Australian Bureau of Statistics Media Release [16/5/13]:
The number of defendants charged with fraud and deception in Australia's criminal courts decreased 39 per cent in 2011-12 from the previous year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today.
ABS Director of Crime and Justice Statistics, Brad Petry, said today's Federal Defendants publication revealed that fraud had decreased despite the total number of defendants remaining consistent from last year.
"The number of defendants finalised in the criminal courts has decreased less than 1 per cent, yet those charged with fraud decreased by 39 per cent," Mr Petry said.
"Last year fraud was the most common principal federal offence, representing one-third of all offences. This year fraud accounted for one-fifth of all offences."
Overall, the number of defendants charged with fraud and deception in Australia's criminal courts dropped from 3,525 in 2010-11 to 2,162 in 2011-12.
The decrease in defendants charged with fraud and deception can be seen in both males and females, with males decreasing 35 per cent, and females decreasing 42 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Just over three quarters of federal defendants charged with fraud and deception were proven guilty. This compares to 70 per cent of all federal defendants proven guilty in 2011-12.
For fraud, 43 per cent of defendants found guilty received a monetary order as their principal sentence and 26 per cent were sentenced to a custodial order.
The number of organisations finalised in the criminal courts increased 86 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12. The increase can be seen in Offences against justice, with 341 more organisations charged under this division compared to last year. ...
Michael 'Dan' Mori to speak at ALA Victorian Conference
Australian Lawyers Alliance Media Release [13/5/13]:
Lawyer, Michael Dan Mori, who represented David Hicks against charges of being an enemy combatant of the United States, will speak at The Australian Lawyers Alliance Victorian Conference in Lorne this weekend.
Mr Mori will present Reflections on the War on Terror: the Mainstreaming of Executive Directed Killings or How I Learned to Love the Drone as part of the ALAs annual two-day conference at the Mantra Erskine on the Beach on Friday and Saturday.
Also appearing before the conference will be keynote speaker Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC who will discuss the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse and Tim Tobin SC who will talk about litigation surrounding the Victorian bushfires.
Victorian County Court Judge Philip Misso will also give his account of what it is like to be a judge running a busy civil list before other sessions that include:
An Annual Case Review from lawyers Maria Pilipasidis and Craig Sidebottom;
Psychiatric Injury in the Workplace with Maurice Blackburn senior associate, Emily Anderson;
a Comparison of Statutory Benefits and Common Law Damages by actuary, David Heath;
and WorkCover, TAC and Medical Cover panel updates from a range of legal specialists.
This years Civil Justice Award recipient is thalidomide survivor, Lynette Rowe who, together with her parents, is said to have struck a major milestone for thalidomide victims around the world having reached agreement in the Victorian Supreme Court in July last year for her lifetime care and support to be fully covered.
This will pave the way for others to make similar multi-million dollar claims against Diageo, who distributed the drug in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. Grunenthal, the German pharmaceutical company which manufactured thalidomide, has not yet agreed to any settlement in response to Ms Rowes concurrent claim against it.
Ms Rowe was born without arms and legs as a result of her mother taking the drug for nausea during pregnancy.
More than 170 lawyers and academics will attend the conference.
''I wish all your efforts and your goodness in the near future to read in the newspaper [that] these people reach their dreams comes true.''
Dan Posadas, chief officer in charge of the rescue on cargo ship Aeolos
Two more would-be asylum seekers have died on the ocean trying to get to Australia while their 46 shipmates survived a boat journey that contained equal parts tragedy and luck.
The survivors, among them five children under six years old, endured 10 days without power, food or fresh water before they were spotted by an Australian Maritime Safety Authority plane and rescued by a cargo ship.
But two days before the rescue, two men, Sajad and Meisam, had decided to paddle out to look for help.
They constructed a raft from empty fuel containers and spare wood, and their paddle was a length of timber from the boat. They were never seen again.
''They had family in Iran,'' Benyamin Saber, one of the survivors, tells Fairfax Media as his wife, Maryam, sobs.
''They are family to my friends and the family has called already and asked if they are OK, but we don't know. They risked their life because of us, looking for the help.''
The 46 who survived 29 men, 12 women and five children, all Iranians now face an uncertain future in Indonesia's overcrowded immigration detention system.
Saber says the group paid $US5000 each to an Indonesian people smuggler he knew as ''Reza'', and set off from Java's eastern capital Surabaya on about April 27. But 30 hours later, the engine on the wooden fishing boat stopped, rendering the pumps useless.
There was no navigation system, no communications and no life jackets.
They had to bail out the water by hand.
After two more days, the crew abandoned ship, swimming to other fishing boats in the area, which refused to help the Iranians.
''We waved our hands and they ignored us . . . We don't go on ships in Iran. Nobody had any idea [what to do].
''We were full of distress, pressure . . . didn't know anything about the ship, the sea . . . There was no sleep, just sailing, and the women screaming and the children crying.
Believe me, we experienced a harmful condition,'' Saber says.
They boiled salt water and captured the steam to drink but there was not enough, and the noodles packed by the crew ran out in the first two days.
''Most of us were crying, most have the sunburn, vomiting and low glucose, most ill.''
On the tenth day, May 7, they saw an Australian surveillance aircraft overhead and about two hours later, cargo ship Aeolos arrived.
Dan Posadas, the chief officer in charge of the rescue on Aeolos says the refugees' wooden boat was ''submerged dangerously because of flooding water''.
The crew plucked them off in a 200-litre plastic drum, ''heaving up [the refugees] one by one the safest way because of the sea condition, and because most of them were tired, weak, dizzy, nervous,'' Posadas said.
According to AMSA, the group was picked up 110 nautical miles north of Christmas Island. But the Aeolos was sailing to Indonesia, so that's where the group went.
Fairfax Media spoke to them in a hotel in the port of Merak where they were under lock and key all day, with only brief respite while their rooms were cleaned.
Narges, one of the women, said they had fled Iran to find a place ''with human rights''.
''They never let us as women speak or be free,'' she said. ''There are no rights for women . . . every place when women want to speak and defend herself, immediately they say you shouldn't; let your husband speak about it.''
Australia may not want them, but their awful story affected one man, at least. Dan Posadas, the man in charge of rescuing them, signed off one communication with Fairfax Media saying: ''I wish all your efforts and your goodness in the near future to read in the newspaper [that] these people reach their dreams comes true.''
Groundwater gas sampling will give CSG a baseline
Coal Seam Gas News [15/5/13]:
Southern Cross University scientists are giving land-owners the opportunity to have their bore water sampled for methane as insurance against potential future impacts of the CSG industry on groundwater.
The study is jointly funded by the Northern Rivers Region Organisation of Councils (NOROC) and SCU and is seeking to establish a map of groundwater chemistry.
NOROC agreed in February to grant $15,000 to the project, but president Jenny Dowell announced this week the organisation abandoned plans for future funding because the CSG issue was too divisive among members.
SCU associate professor Isaac Santos said the groundwater study was the first of its kind in Australia.
Doctoral candidate Marnie Atkins said the team hoped to monitor at least five bores a week and more than 100 over the six-month survey.
The research will initially cover the broad Richmond River catchment from Casino and Kyogle east to Byron Bay and Evans Head.
Ms Atkins said baseline research could function as a form of insurance.
If we have good, independent baseline data, it will be much easier to settle on some of the major issues related to the CSG debate, Ms Atkins said.
On Tuesday, Planet Gas announced it was withdrawing from any further CSG operations in NSW. It was the third CSG company in three months to announce a suspension of its NSW activities following Metgasco and Dart Energy.
Also on Tuesday, the federal budget allotted $38.5 million over four years for the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on CSG and Large Coal Mining Development.
Landowners interested in having their groundwater bore sampled should contact Marnie Atkins on 0434 013 110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post Groundwater gas sampling will give CSG a baseline appeared first on Coal Seam Gas Australia.
Bahrain- Prominent Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Reportedly Missing
Bahrain Centre for Human
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) express grave concern over the news of the removal of Nabeel Rajab from his cell to an unknown location.
Nabeel Rajab called his wife on 14 May 2013, telling her that he had witnessed the torture of young political prisoners at the hands of prison guards at Jaw prison. He raised his voice telling them to stop, and when they realized that he had witnessed what was happening, they quickly left.
Nabeel Rajab asked his wife to request that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visit him in prison so he can give them his testimony of what he had witnessed. Rajabs wife received a phone call that evening informing her that Nabeel was reportedly removed from his cell that night by prison guards and was not returned.
The BCHR and GCHR are very concerned that due to what Nabeel Rajab witnessed he is being silenced by being moved to solitary confinement. There is a serious concern of ill-treatment if he is moved to solitary confinement where he loses communication with his family and lawyer.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights had previously launched an appeal about allowing Nabeel Rajab access to adequate medical care which can be found here: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5719.
The BCHR and GCHR hold the Bahraini authorities, including the Director of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation in the Ministry of the Interior Mohammed Rashid AlHussaini, fully responsible for Nabeel Rajabs health and well-being, and demand that his family be immediately informed of his whereabouts.
The BCHR and GCHR call on the Government of Bahrain to:
1. Immediately release imprisoned human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him, as it is believed that he has been targeted solely due to his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.
3. Immediately put an end to the practice of torture and the ill-treatment of prisoners in Bahrain and bring those responsible to justice.
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
We also reiterate our call to the international community, especially close allies, to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to stop the ill-treatment of human rights defenders and to release them immediately as we believe they have been targeted solely for their legitimate human rights activities.
Passage of the Excision Bill undermines human rights
Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release [16/5/13]:
The Australian Human Rights Commission has expressed disappointment that the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 has been passed today.
This legislation extends the system of third country processing to all asylum seekers who arrive by boat anywhere in Australia.
It effectively prevents those people from having their refugee claims assessed in Australia, unless the Minister for Immigration makes a personal decision to exempt them from transfer to a third country.
By targeting unauthorised maritime arrivals, the legislation discriminates against vulnerable people and penalises them because of the way they arrive in Australia, Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs said. This undermines Australias obligations under the Refugee Convention.
The Commission has repeatedly raised serious concerns about the fate of asylum seekers who are subjected to Australias third country processing regime.
Transferring asylum seekers to third countries may lead to breaches of their human rights, including the right to be free from arbitrary detention and the right of children to have their best interests treated as a primary consideration, Professor Triggs said.
She said children should only ever be detained if it is a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
We have serious concerns about the ongoing detention of children on Manus Island in difficult conditions, Professor Triggs said. We have recommended that the Australian Government cease transferring asylum seekers to Manus Island, and that asylum seekers currently on Manus Island be returned to Australia.
The Commission is also very concerned about the thousands of asylum seekers in immigration detention in Australia who remain subject to third country transfer, and whose claims for refugee status are not being assessed.
In the Commissions view, all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia should have their claims for protection processed under Australian law in a timely and efficient manner, Professor Triggs said. They should be transferred into the Australian community unless they have been individually assessed as posing an unacceptable risk that justifies their detention.
ACOSS calls on major parties to make election pledge to increase Newstart
ACOSS Media Release [16/5/13]:
The Australian Council of Social Service today welcomed the passing of a motion in the House of Representatives declaring that the rate of Newstart Allowance is too low.
We praise the Australian Greens motion moved by Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt, which passed the House of Representatives today," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
We now call on our nations major political parties to agree to move urgently to legislate an increase in the low payment to help some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.
The failure to include an increase in the abysmally low $35 a day payment in Tuesdays Budget was not good enough. It is cruel to now acknowledge the payment is not enough and yet do nothing about it.
We need to translate this widespread community and now political support into action. We call on the major parties to include a clear commitment to increase income support allowances, such as Newstart, without delay," said Dr Goldie.
Childrens on-screen reading overtakes reading in print
UK National Literacy Trust [16/5/13]:
For the first time children are reading more on computers and other electronic devices than they are reading books, magazines, newspapers and comics. This is potentially detrimental to childrens reading levels as those who read daily only on-screen are much less likely to be good readers than those who read in print.
The National Literacy Trust is calling for a healthier reading balance using both books and technological devices.
New research with 34,910 young people aged 8 to sixteen published by charity the National Literacy Trust reveals:
39% of children and young people read daily using electronic devices including tablets and eReaders, but only 28% read printed materials daily. The number of children reading eBooks has doubled in the last two years (from 6% to 12%).
Children say they prefer to read on screen. Over half (52%) said they would rather read on electronic devices but only a third (32%) would rather read in print.
Nearly all children have access to a computer at home and 4 out of 10 now own a tablet or a smartphone, while 3 in 10 do not have a desk of their own.
Girls are significantly more likely than boys to read in print (68% vs 54%)
Girls are also more likely to read on a range of on-screen devices including mobile phones (67% girls vs. 60% boys), eReaders (84% girls vs. 69% boys), and tablets (70% girls vs. 67% boys).
The research examines the influence of this technology on childrens reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading. It found those who read daily only on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or in print and on-screen (15.5% vs 26%). Those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much (12% vs 51%) and a third less likely to have a favourite book (59% vs 77%).
National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas said:
Our research confirms that technology is playing a central role in young peoples literacy development and reading choice. While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, its crucial that reading in print is not cast aside.
We are concerned by our finding that children who only read on-screen are significantly less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to be strong readers. Good reading skills and reading for pleasure are closely linked to childrens success at school and beyond. We need to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose.
The research is being launched today at an event hosted by its funders, law firm Slaughter and May.
National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas will chair a debate with experts including Coventry Universitys Professor Clare Wood who has researched the impact of text messaging on literacy; Lindsay Nadin, Head of Primary Literacy Publishing at Pearson UK Schools; Lord Jim Knight, former Minister of State for Schools; and Kate Wilson, Managing Director of childrens book and app publisher Nosy Crow.
Through my stories and words I have long considered the ways in which people cope with physical and social isolation, and because I enjoy smalltown life I remain curious about the effects of environments that are carelessly designed, quickly built and unattractive, since this is the reality that confronts me where I live.
In regional Australia depression, suicide, addiction and domestic violence are major blights, with origins many and complex.
Public discussions of the causes generally include factors of isolation and landscape as well as limits to education, health care and romance, but nobody mentions built ugliness as even a minor contributor.
Gold Coast Arts Centre
Gallery 2 May 11 - June 16, 2013
Smalltown is a dialogue between photographer Martin Mischkulnig and author Tim Winton, travelling through out-of-the-way parts of Australia.
Mischkulnigs spare yet beautiful photographs are distinctively Australian views of rural and remote places, evoking similar feelings to Wintons novels. They challenge us to consider the people who live in these places, and their struggle to come to terms with harsh or isolated environments.
Smalltown does not romanticise the places it documents: the images are often disturbing for the built ugliness they reveal, and Tim Wintons words provide compelling and probing ruminations on the nature of Australian rural life.
Mischkulnigs own parents emigrated from Austria in the early 1960s and found themselves running small roadside motels. This project was inspired by his desire to retrace the formative years of his life and to probe the mystifying, existential reasons people choose to stay.
His images are of remote settlements in Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The exhibition Smalltown pairs Mischkulnigs stunning large-format colour photography with words by Tim Winton. A book of the same name has been published by Hamish Hamilton-Penguin and is available for purchase.
Looks like Qld's Minister for Health might be in need of a vegemite sandwich
Bipartisan support for Jamie Oliver's bogus bullshit "cooking revolution".
Minister for Health Media Release [16/5/13]:
Queenslanders are being encouraged to get back in the kitchen on May 17 as part of Jamie Olivers Food Revolution Day.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has put out the call for people across the state to get behind the campaign, designed to get people cooking and eating well.
He said thousands of Queenslanders had already benefited from the government-supported Jamies Ministry of Food -The Good Foundation initiative, and he urged others to heed its message of healthy cooking and eating.
The Ministry of Food program teaches participants how to cook meals from scratch using fresh ingredients, helping people to enhance their cooking skills and food literacy.
The rationale behind the Ministry of Food program is a simple one, preparing healthy food together and eating together, Mr Springborg said.
Food Revolution Day promotes these qualities fresh food and good cooking, and it celebrates the richness that healthy home cooking can bring to the community.
He said over 12,000 Queenslanders from across the state had attended a Jamies Ministry of Food course, cooking demonstration or event, but that more had to be done.
Data shows less than 10 per cent of Queenslanders eat the recommended serve of vegetables each day, but 34 per cent consume take-away at least weekly.
Our habits have to change for us to buck the obesity trend and make Queensland the healthy state.
That is why I encourage everyone to get behind Food Revolution Day on May 17 and be one step closer to better health.
Premier and Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Media Release [8/11/10]:
Queenslanders are set to be better equipped to prepare healthy meals at home with the support of world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver in an Australia-first partnership.
Premier Anna Bligh has announced that Queensland will be the first State to partner with Jamie Olivers highly successful Ministry of Food program.
Ms Bligh said a Ministry of Food Cooking Centre is to be based in Ipswich, while a mobile Ministry of Food Outreach Truck will visit Queenslanders in other communities and schools to conduct demonstrations and cooking classes.
We have committed up to $2.5 million over four years to support the delivery of this program through the Good Foundation because we believe it can make a difference, said the Premier.
One in five adults in Queensland is obese, and one in four children is either overweight or obese.
This is about educating young Queenslanders about how to prepare nutritious meals and help them to lead long, healthy lives.
The centre alone, with 10 week courses, one day demonstrations and an outreach program could reach up to 14,000 Queenslanders each year and that can have a massive effect on families and children across our State. ...
If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
Australia excises itself from its own migration zone
Here's a series of "tweets" from Fairfax's immigration correspondent Bianca Hall [@_Biancah] covering proceeding in the Senate this morning:
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young moving amendment to give Australian Human Rights Commission power to inspect offshore detention centres.
The government opposes the amendment, saying we can't guarantee that other nations (PNG and Nauru) will allow the AHRC to inspect.
Senators John Faulkner and Doug Cameron voting with the government against allowing AHRC power to inspect offshore centres.
DLP senator John Madigan votes with the Greens. The amendment is voted down.
Now Sarah Hanson-Young moves to allow media access to offshore processing centres. Disclaimer: I've got an iron in this fire.
Senator Kate Lundy: the govt allowing media access to offshore processing centres would undermine the sovereignty of PNG and Nauru.
Senator Lundy: "we do not see any merit" in amending the Migration Act in the way that's been proposed by the Greens party today.
The media will just keep holding our collective breath that we can get inside the offshore centres to report on them, then.
The Coalition and Government block the amendment to give media access to offshore detention centres. DLP voting w/ the Greens again.
Now the Senate's debating a final Greens amendment to remove children from Manus Island's detention centre.
An angry @senatormilne to the government benches: "you are choosing cruelty to children. You are choosing punishment to innocent children".
Meanwhile, Senator Bill Heffernan's completely engrossed in his copy of the Australian.
Senator Kate Lundy: to exempt children from being sent to Manus Island would encourage people smugglers to put children on boats.
Senator Lundy: asylum seekers are checked for "particular vulnerabilities" before being transferred to offshore processing centres.
Senator Doug Cameron voted against move to remove children from Manus, despite calling for it to close based on conditions several wks ago.
And with the three amendments voted down, we move on to the government's legislation to excise the entire mainland from the Migration Act.
Nine MSN [16/5/13]:
The Australian mainland will be excised from the migration zone in a bid to deter asylum seeker boat arrivals, a move labelled by the Australian Greens as a stain on our national character.
Federal Labor, with the backing of the coalition, on Thursday successfully steered its controversial excision legislation through the Senate.
It paves the way for people arriving by boat to be processed at offshore facilities on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Under the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012, mainland Australia will join Ashmore Island, Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, and Cocos Islands out of the migration zone.
The Howard government tried to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone in 2006, but failed after a backbench revolt led by Liberal moderates.
Manager of government business in the Senate Jacinta Collins earlier on Thursday succeeded in fast-tracking the bill through the upper house.
She said people smugglers were evolving their tactics.
In early April 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers sailed into the Western Australian port of Geraldton after travelling more than 5000km, stunning onlookers.
Greens leader Christine Milne slammed Labor for backing a plan they were strongly opposed to in 2006.
"The nation was horrified that a prime minister would seek to wipe Australia off the map," she said, recalling John Howard's failed attempt to excise the Australian mainland in 2006.
"This legislation that we are debating here today is stain on our national character."
Liberal senator Michaelia Cash said the coalition strongly supported the bill.
She claimed Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor came to coalition MPs "quite literally on bended knee" on Thursday and "begged" them to support the government's legislation.
A spokeswoman for Mr O'Connor denied the minister held any meetings with the coalition about the legislation on Thursday.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Labor was "doing all the Liberal Party's dirty work" in "beating up on refugees, dog whistling on immigration and stripping away laws that protect the most vulnerable in our community".
Australia was contravening the United Nation's refugee convention by discriminating against asylum seekers based on their mode of arrival, she said.
The government was creating a "damaged generation" by keeping children in detention.
"We are subjecting these children to child abuse, to institutionalised abuse," Senator Hanson-Young told parliament.
The amended government bill now goes to the lower house for a final tick of approval.
An earlier version of the bill passed the House of Representatives in November.
Asylum boat reaches NT mainland
The Age [15/5/13]:
A small group of asylum seekers decamped from their boat in a virtually uninhabited peninsula in the Northern Territory, and were only discovered a day later at a nearby airstrip.
Customs and Border Command reported the incident late on Wednesday.
The boat carrying 11 people was first spotted by a Dash-8 surveillance aircraft on Monday, about 109 nautical miles outside Australias exclusive economic zone. It was spotted again on Tuesday, several nautical miles off Australian land, and authorities sent HMAS Glenelg, which operates under Border Protection Command control, to find the boat.
It was discovered at Coburg Peninsula, a rugged section of coves and bays, about 350km east of Darwin.
Aerial surveillance showed the passengers had disembarked, and they were found at a nearby airstrip after running into the bush.
It is believed the group is Vietnamese.
In a statement, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the group was taken onto HMAS Glenelg with the help of Northern Territory Police, and transferred to detention facilities in Darwin. They will undergo initial security, health and identity checks.
Bali: Refugees escape, police beef up hotel security
Jakarta Post [15/5/13]:
Some of the 95 Middle Eastern "illegal immigrants" arrested by the Bali Polices water police directorate on Sunday have escaped from the hotels where they were being detained.
Yes, some of them ran away, but we do not know the exact number, said Saroha Manulang, head of Information and Communication at the Denpasar Immigration Office.
He admitted that a lack of security had resulted in the escapes, saying the police had started to deploy more personnel to safeguard the hotel on Jl. Tukad Barito since Tuesday.
The immigrants were initially moved to three hotels: Hotel Oka and Hotel Warta on Jl. Diponegoro, and Hotel Barito on Jl. Tukad Barito. They were detained there due to the detention house for "illegal immigrants" in Jimbaran being overcapacity.
Currently, a total of 27 immigrants are being detained in Hotel Barito and detention rooms at Denpasar Immigration Office.
After questioning, it was revealed that they are part of an illegal immigrant group staying in Cisarua, Bogor in West Java.
Hossin, a 31-year-old Iranian admitted he was transferred from Cisarua to Bali on his way to Australia.
Hossin and his 25-year-old wife, Sami, entered Indonesia through Soekarno Hatta International Airport on January 15. They were then brought to a villa in Cisarua by someone identified as Amir and stayed there for four months.
According to Hossin, Amir asked for US$15,000 to provide the couple with daily needs during their stay in Indonesia and to pay for the flight to Bali.
Hossin said he had never met Amir, only communicating with him by phone.
He could not remember the date he arrived on the island. I think its been two weeks or so, he said.
From Ngurah Rai International Airport, he and his wife were brought to a villa. But I dont know where it is. We never went out. We were locked up in the villa, he said, adding that all their daily needs had been provided.
They spent their days waiting until someone called saying they could finally head to Australia by boat.
A car came to pick us up and bring us to a boat, he said.
He and his wife were asked to pay a total of $11,000 as a guarantee that they would arrive safely in Darwin.
We were heading to Darwin, not Christmas Island, he added.
However, the boat was stopped by the police around one nautical mile off Benoa on Sunday.
Despite the arrest, he remains determined to go to Australia, saying he would never go back to his home country.
Im Arabic, born in Iran, but I never want to return there.
In Iran, Hossin worked as a helicopter technician with a monthly salary of $280, insufficient for the couple. His wife, an accountancy school graduate, did not work.
He took side jobs to be able to cover their daily expenses, including trading in cars and gold.
However, he claimed it was not financial difficulties that forced him to leave Iran, saying it was the situation in the country that made him uncomfortable.
Mater Hospital offers to assist Queensland Health
In his evidence to the Queensland Health Payroll Commission of Inquiry today [16/5/13] Mr Malcolm Thatcher, Chief Information Officer at Mater Health, Brisbane said the Mater's payroll system took four years to implement and cost $9.1 million.
In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Thatcher says:
... Mater Health wishes to offer assistance Queensland Health in any way possible to effect better implementations in the future.
The basis for our interest in doing so is not simply the more efficient expenditure of public funds, but also the fact that Mater Health too is involved in the delivery of health care and interacts closely with Queensland Health and its operations. ...
Mr Thatcher echoed these sentiments today.
When updating their payroll system, the Mater implemented Kronos rostering. (Queensland Health uses workbrain.)
Mr Thatcher told the inquiry that workbrain is used as a data capture tool rather than a rostering tool.
It was pointed out to Mr Thatcher that numbers at the Mater are ten times smaller than Queensland Health - which also has to contend with issues of remoteness.
Damon Atzeni, Business Integration Manager Queensland Health returned to give further evidence to the inquiry this afternoon.
The inquiry has been adjourned until 10 am, May 27.
... Mater Hospital considered the IBM Workbrain solution chosen by Queensland Health for its payroll overhaul, but Thatcher told the inquiry there was no health reference site in Australia for Workbrain.
It was our decision to go with Kronos on the basis that at that time, it was the only solution capable of dealing with the complex award interpretations that Mater was required to process, Thatcher testified.
As part of the selection process, Mater Hospital required those tendering for the project to demonstrate their software in use. ... [IT News - 17/5/13]
IBM says it won Queensland Health contract fairly [Brisbane Times - 8/4/13]
Brisbane Times [29/4/13]:
Nurses at a major Queensland hospital have rejected a pay offer that their union says is inferior to the sector's standard wage agreements.
Almost 90 per cent of nurses and midwives balloted at the Mater Adult Hospital in Brisbane voted against the offer, the Queensland Nurses Union says.
The union's secretary Beth Mohle says although the hospital is run by private operators it receives the same government funding for nurses and midwives as other Queensland Health facilities.
She says she's not surprised nurses rejected the offer, which would have seen them earning $30 less per week than their colleagues in other public hospitals.
"They could also see clearly what QNU officials and delegates could see, that the Mater was trying to start the scale back of nurse and midwife wages and working conditions," she said in a statement on Monday.
Ms Mohle said the offer would have also slashed an annual allowance for professional development and allowed nurses to be forcibly made redundant.
"I call on Mater Public management to now return to the negotiating table, listen to their employees and finalise a new agreement," she said.
The hospital has been contacted for comment.
Mater Public nurses and midwives reject private/NGO operators attempt to start scaling back pay rates [QNU - 28/4/13]
Australia to sign on to drone program
Nine MSN [16/5/13]:
Australia has jumped back on board the US Navy program to develop long-range surveillance drones to watch over the country's vast landmass and ocean approaches.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the government would issue a Letter of Request to the United States to gain access to detailed cost, capability and availability information on the US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.
The drone is made by US firm Northrop Grumman and is a descendant of the long-range Global Hawk specifically configured for maritime surveillance.
Mr Smith said the 2013 Defence White Paper spelled out plans to replace the RAAF's ageing fleet of 18 AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft with the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft, complemented by unmanned aircraft able to conduct broad area maritime surveillance.
"The goal is to provide long-range, long-endurance maritime surveillance and response and an effective anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability," he said in a statement.
Australian interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) dates back to the late 1990s when Australia joined the initial Global Hawk research project. In 2001, a Global Hawk flew non-stop from California to Australia, a record for a pilotless aircraft.
Then in 2006, the then-coalition government gave approval in principle to buy them. But in 2009 the new Labor regime pulled the pin, citing defence advice the RAAF was not in a position to absorb another advanced capability aircraft at that time.
Mr Smith said to help assess suitability of Triton for Australian requirements, the Government would establish a Foreign Military Sales Technical Services Case with the US to obtain detailed cost, capability and availability information.
He said the release of a Letter of Request did not commit Australia to Triton.
"Defence will continue to investigate options for a mixed manned and unmanned aircraft fleet to inform Government consideration later in the decade," he said.
Mr Smith said defence would continue to analyse the value of further investment in unmanned aircraft for overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, including for use in border security operations.
That could eventually involve acquisition of armed UAVs.
"This will include the potential expansion of the role of these assets in the ADF (Australian Defence Force) to include interdiction and close air support, subject to policy development and Government consideration," he said.
Afghan detainees complain of humiliating searches
Brisbane Times [16/5/13]:
Afghan detainees captured by the Australian Defence Force and held at a US military prison near Bagram complained to Australian government officials that they were forced to accept humiliatingly public ''groin and buttocks'' searches, previously secret defence documents reveal.
The papers also reveal that the warmest blankets were kept back as a reward for the best-behaved prisoners on freezing winter nights. There were also complaints about food, overcrowding, water quality, lack of progress in having cases reviewed, medical problems and long waiting lists for dental work.
Despite these findings, reported secretly to Canberra in 2010-11 by a defence and foreign affairs fact-finding group known as the Interagency Detainee Monitoring Team, Defence Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament recently that ''no serious issues of concern regarding the treatment of detainees have been identified''.
The heavily censored reports were obtained under freedom of information by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) in Sydney, and deal with allegations of mistreatment of detainees captured or ''apprehended'' by Australian forces in Afghanistan between 2010 and last year.
The ADF has a secure facility for ''screening'' prisoners but then transfers those deemed a security risk to an Afghan jail or the prison at Parwan, near Bagram. Australia remains legally responsible for the welfare of detainees it transfers to these other facilities.
The briefing papers highlight keen political sensitivity on the issue, with a ministerial briefing note from September 2010 pointing out that ''detainee management issues attract significant domestic and international media scrutiny and public attention''.
Defence used every possible exemption under the FOI Act to blank out crucial detail in the latest batch of documents released to PIAC. Many of the monitoring team's reports have been censored in their entirety, despite Mr Smith's pledges of transparency.
PIAC chief executive Edward Santow said it was ''unfortunate that these documents have been so heavily redacted. When allegations of mistreatment are raised, we need to know that they are thoroughly investigated.'' Transparency about detainee complaints and investigations was ''crucial to maintaining public confidence in the Australian military'', he said.
Despite the veiling of much of the material, enough emerges to point to systemic issues at Parwan, a jail that until this year was US-run but is passing into Afghan control.
In February last year, the Australian monitoring team reported via cable from Kabul that detainees at Parwan had raised ''serious concerns'' about searches of ''groin and buttocks areas'' being carried out in open view.
''The US advised that, in accordance with US policy, these searches were not invasive enough to be conducted in private by medical personnel'', the cable says. ''As such they would continue to be conducted in public by the guardforce.''
Mr Santow said international law required Australia to protect prisoners from ''humiliating and degrading treatment'' even after their transfer to an ally.
''Practices like invasive body searches conducted in public raise serious concerns, and need to be investigated further,'' he said.
Another cable from January 2011 reports a ''number of detainees at DFIP [the Parwan prison] complained they were cold at night.''
Prison authorities admitted to the monitors that ''all detainees were issued with two blankets, but some were given better blankets as an incentive for good behaviour''.
Most details of individual complaints made against Australian troops or military staff have been withheld.
The papers contain sketchy details of several cases where detainees complained of rough treatment upon capture.
One brought in with a bloody face and bruising was found to have been struck in ''self-defence'' while attempting to seize a weapon.
Latest figures show there have been 191 allegations of mistreatment against the ADF since August 2010, with 185 assessed as ''unfounded'' and six under review.
How will the Gillard govt's proposed expansion of flexible work request grounds impact employers & workers ... [VIDEO]
Published on Apr 26, 2013
How will the Australian Government's proposed expansion of flexible work request grounds impact employers and workers in Australia?
Leading Australian workplace lawyer Joydeep Hor the Managing Principal of People + Culture Strategies discusses this with Michael Rowland on ABC News 24.
Study shows scientists agree humans cause global-warming
UQ News [16/5/13]:
More than 97 per cent of 4000 international scientific papers analysed in a University of Queensland-led study were rated as endorsing human-caused global warming.
UQ Global Change Institute lead author John Cook said the finding proved there was strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.
This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it, Mr Cook said.
For example, if 97 per cent of doctors told you that you had smoking-induced cancer, you'd take action: quit smoking and start chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer.
A 2012 poll from the US Pew Research Centre found less than half of Americans thought scientists agreed humans were causing global warming.
There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception, Mr Cook said.
Making the results of our paper more widely-known is an important step towards closing the consensus gap and increasing public support for meaningful climate action.
The study was published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The study involved 24 scientists and science enthusiasts in rating the 4000 abstracts that stated a position on climate change.
The papers were also self-rated by the paper authors for validity.
Both approaches found the same result that 97 per cent of the 4000 abstracts endorsed human-caused global warming.
The study looked at a much bigger number of papers: they examined 11 944 climate abstracts from 19912011 matching the topics global climate change' or global warming'. The 4000 papers stated a position on whether humans were causing climate change, but almost 8000 other papers worked on the basis that climate change was a given.
The debate has moved on the acceptance' of human-induced climate change is so widespread in scientific circles that many scientists don't even bother to reiterate this fact, said Cook
Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on human caused climate change is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.
The 24 volunteers were recruited through the myth-busting website Skepticalscience.com, founded by Mr Cook.
Visitors to the website also raised the funds required to allow the study to be accessible to the public.
The results of the paper are explained in detail on a new website, theconsensusproject.com, launched today.
Greens secure NAPLAN Inquiry
Australian Greens Media Release [16/5/13]:
The Australian Greens have secured a Senate inquiry into NAPLAN testing to examine widespread concern the tests are having unintended consequences on teaching and student learning.
Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools, Senator Penny Wright, said marketers were seizing on the stress created by high-stakes testing.
"NAPLAN should be about maths, not marketing. It should be about literacy, not an industry," Senator Wright said.
"NAPLAN was intended to provide important information on student performance and highlight students most in need of help.
"Instead, it has become a high-stakes test that is narrowing the curriculum and being used to compare schools through the MySchool site.
"This has taken the focus away from students. Parents are so concerned about consequences of NAPLAN testing they're hiring private tutors or switching schools, based on the MySchool site.
"On top of that, you have fish-oil salesmen pushing dietary supplements, special NAPLAN teddy bears and NAPLAN training books on the best-seller list.
"No child's education or opportunity should be dependent on their parents' ability to pay for private tutoring or test booklets.
"After six years, it is time to re-evaluate the test to make sure it's doing what it's supposed to and putting kids' learning first."
The terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry can be found here.
Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam welcomed Budget boosts for public broadcasters ABC and the SBS while condemning the Government's failure to support community radio.
"The Government is refusing to fund the Digital Radio Program (DRP) which means some community broadcasters face closure. It's a relatively tiny amount of money: $1.4 million to keep all our community broadcasters on the air. ... [Australian Greens Media Release - 16/5/13]
Andrew Wilkie introducing Live Animal Export (Restriction and Prohibition) Bill 2013 into parliament now.
"tweeted" by Mel Thomas - @photogramel [16/5/13]
Andrew Wilkie MP:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is calling for live animal exports to be banned.
The latest shocking revelation of cruelty to Australian animals, this time in Egypt, surely must sound the death knell for Australias live animal export industry, Mr Wilkie said.
With each new revelation come more promises from the Government to fix the trade, but each time these promises prove worthless and just more evidence that the Government doesnt really care about animal welfare.
Making the situation in Egypt all the more appalling is that there is already an Australian presence at that abattoir. If the Governments response this time is more talk about supply chain assurance then all it will really be saying is more of the same.
Since Four Corners blew the lid on the systemic cruelty in Indonesian slaughterhouses two years ago weve had revelations of more cruelty in Kuwait, Pakistan, Israel, and now Egypt. Given the live export industrys track record we can assume similar problems in other countries.
The bottom line is that the live export business is systemically cruel and beyond remedy. Its also not in Australias economic self-interest because exporting live animals also exports the jobs of those who would otherwise slaughter and process them.
On 18 August 2011 my Private Members Bill to wind up the trade received virtually no support and was voted down in the Parliament. In light of these latest revelations I will try to resurrect that Bill and expect the Government and the Opposition, or at least those people of good heart in the Parliament, to support it.
The live export industry is systemically cruel, not in Australias economic best interests and strongly opposed by the majority of Australians. The Government must put an end to it.
Freeport-McMoran in Papua halt operations following death of miners
Rescue work is continuing at the giant Freeport-McMoran gold and copper mine in Indonesias Papua province after a tunnel collapsed on Tuesday, trapping about 25 workers.
Police say four miners died and 10 others were evacuated after the tunnel caved in at the Grasberg mine.
Police add the situation at the mine is still thought to be volatile.
The company says Freeport has suspended all operations at the mine out of respect for the workers killed.
The head of Freeports Indonesia unit says it is a temporary suspension out of sympathy for the victims but also due to some safety considerations around underground operations.
He adds accident has had no effect on the open mining pit at Grasberg.
Freeport, which is handling the rescue operation, said in a statement on Tuesday that the rescue process is difficult and will take some time to complete.
About 40 workers were undergoing safety training at the time of the tunnels collapse.
The condition of the 10 people who were rescued is not known.
Queensland government contributes support
to construction of hospital in Daru, PNG
Joint Statement Qld Premier and Minister for Health [15/5/13]:
Queensland will help Papua New Guinea in its fight to combat tuberculosis and other diseases, by contributing support to the construction of a new hospital at Daru in the Western Province of the country.
Premier Campbell Newman discussed the hospital with Prime Minister Peter ONeill in Port Moresby and said he would also consider opportunities for nursing staff in the country.
Queensland taxpayers may not know that currently its costing them $14 million a year to look after PNG nationals who come into our state, Mr Newman said.
That location, in Daru, is important, because it deals specifically with people who have diseases and who are currently coming into Queensland for treatment.
We only receive about $4 million back from the commonwealth, so anything that we can do to provide support to the hospital, where locals can get help, is in the ultimate interests of Queenslanders.
Mr Newman said initially PNG wanted technical support to build the hospital but the prospects could expand on its completion.
Providing this technical expertise will come at no cost to the Queensland taxpayer, he said.
We have also discussed nursing staff opportunities here in Papua New Guinea and we will continue to explore that with them.
Obviously, we will talk with the nurses union as well.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said its important to build on the effective TB treatment regime that is already established at Daru.
By providing the best treatment in the home communities, the outcomes will improve, Mr Springborg said.
To be effective, TB treatment must run its full course and that is undermined when sufferers travel in search of better treatment options.
This is a difficult issue and there are local problems that must be addressed as part of the solution.
However, by working together with the PNG Government and the medical teams on Daru, I am confident we can make a strong, positive contribution.
5 May 2013 6 May 2013 12 May 2013 15 May 2013 17 May 2013
7 April 2013 14 April 2013 21 April 2013 28 April 2013
6 January 2013 13 January 2013 20 January 2013 27 January 2013
2 December 2012 9 December 2012 16 December 2012 23 December 2012 30 December 2012
4 November 2012 11 November 2012 18 November 2012 25 November 2012
7 October 2012 14 October 2012 21 October 2012 28 October 2012
2 September 2012 9 September 2012 16 September 2012 23 September 2012 30 September 2012
5 August 2012 12 August 2012 19 August 2012 26 August 2012
1 July 2012 8 July 2012 15 July 2012 22 July 2012 29 July 2012
3 June 2012
10 June 2012 17
June 2012 24 June
6 May 2012 13 May 2012 20 May 2012 27 May 2012
1 April 2012
8 April 2012 15
April 2012 22
April 2012 29
4 March 2012 11 March 2012 18 March 2012 25 March 2012
5 February 2012 12 February 2012 19 February 2012 26 February 2012
1 January 2012 8 January 2012 15 January 2012 22 January 2012 29 January 2012
4 December 2011 11 December 2011 18 December 2011 25 December 2011
6 November 2011 13 November 2011 20 November 2011 27 November 2011
2 October 2011 9 October 2011 16 October 2011 23 October 2011 30 October 2011
4 September 2011 11 September 2011 18 September 2011 25 September 2011
7 August 2011 14 August 2011 21 August 2011 28 August 2011
3 July 2011 10 July 2011 17 July 2011 24 July 2011 31 July 2011
5 June 2011 12 June 2011 19 June 2011 26 June 2011
29 May 2011 21 May 2011 14 May 2011 7 May 2011
January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011
January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010
January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008
May 2008 April 2008
March 2008 February 2008 January 2008
December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007
December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 2005
JUDICIAL CRITICISM OF THE MURDOCH MACHINE
BOB BROWN, THE FIRST GULF WAR AND UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION
* All Copyright retained, but if you reproduce or copy any material from this website, please attribute to: www.springhillvoice.com and we may sue your sorry thieving behind, anyway.