Australasia

Dear Scott and Bill, we’ve strayed from our values: a Socceroo’s plea

Football commentator Craig Foster, who helped save refugee Hakeem al-Araibi, has written a challenge to PM Scott Morrison and Labor leader Bill Shorten: now save Australia’s humanity. Craig Foster The Sydney Morning Herald Dear Scott and Bill, Thank you for your support for Hakeem al-Araibi during his recent struggle for justice and for the welcome provided to him last week at Parliament House. It was a powerful moment to see a young refugee celebrated in the centre of our democracy, ... Read More »

Julian Assange gets a new Australian passport

Fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been issued with a new Australian passport after lengthy negotiations over whether he was subject to an arrest warrant for a “serious foreign offence”. Richard Baker The Sydney Morning Herald A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday that Mr Assange’s 2018 application for a new passport had been accepted. Consular and Crisis Management Division first assistant secretary Andrew Todd said, “Mr Assange does have an ... Read More »

Sixth wastewater report reveals Australians spend over $9.3 billion a year on drugs

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission today released the sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program providing longer-term insights into drug consumption as the… Using wastewater data between August 2017 to August 2018, it is estimated that more than 9.6 tonnes of methylamphetamine is consumed in Australia each year, as well as more than 4 tonnes of… The street price of this quantity of these four drugs is valued at around $9.3 billion, underlining the ... Read More »

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art is an exercise in spectacle

The exhibition Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art, Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is the first major loan to Australia from this repository of what have become the canonical art works of… John Clark The Conversation It deserves to be seen by all those interested in Chinese art, and hopefully will be the precursor for many such loans in the future. Perhaps it will also prod the National Palace Museum in Beijing to do a major loan exhibition, ... Read More »

Aged care workforce will need to triple by 2050 to meet demand, inquiry hears

About 83,500 extra places will be needed over the next 10 years alone, but service providers say they are under significant cost pressures. AAP – SBS Demand for aged care places will explode over the next decade and require a tripling of the workforce by 2050, the aged care royal commission has been told. At the same time, funding uncertainty has caused some residential care providers to put development plans on hold. Recent data shows that 83,500 extra places will ... Read More »

As Germany, UK waver on Huawei, China rebuts chief US security claim

Beijing: With Germany and Britain poised to make a decision on Huawei and 5G, China has begun to hit back with new ferocity at claims its national intelligence law compels Chinese companies to obey its… WAtoday Despite Washington’s public pressure on allies to bar Huawei, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre is reported to have decided the security risk is “manageable”, while a German cabinet meeting last week is… Germany is said to be weighing up security conditions that could instead be ... Read More »

Victories for human rights highlight Australia’s tarnished reputation

On February 13, 26-year-old Sudanese refugee, Aziz Muhamat, won a prestigious international human rights prize, the Martin Ennals Award, in Geneva, Switzerland. Elaine Pearson Brisbane Times Winners are selected because of their deep commitment to human rights, often working under threat of detention, torture, or worse. Last month, a Kurdish refugee from Iran, Behrouz Boochani, won Australia’s richest literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature. Both men achieved this recognition despite Australian government efforts to hide them away on Manus ... Read More »

Perth’s first ocean rubbish bin is sucking plenty of plastic out of the sea

A unique floating rubbish bin, which effectively acts as a vacuum cleaner for the ocean, is being put to good use in waters off Western Australia for the first time. ABC Radio Perth By Gian De Poloni  Perth surfers Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski garnered international attention in 2015 for their Seabin prototype, which was created after they became frustrated at the amount of rubbish floating in the ocean. A successful crowd-funding campaign allowed the device to be produced commercially ... Read More »

Canberra’s first Buddhist pagoda set to open

The finishing touches are being put to an important religious building in the ACT. Steve Evans The Canberra Times The Sri Lankan community has been building a special “stupa” or pagoda which is to be formally finished with a ceremony on Saturday and officially opened a week later. There are several Buddhist temples in the territory but a stupa is viewed as the very essence of Buddhism. It’s a domed structure to hold relics of the life of the Buddha, ... Read More »

Fierce litigator worked pro-bono to champion human rights

At Steven Glass’s funeral, his closest friends and loved ones were discovering things about him they didn’t know and connecting with people that they had never met before. By Asia Lenard, George Newhouse, Ju Lin O’Connor and Eva Orner The Age It’s not that Steven was secretive, he was simply a man who got things done, quietly, without fanfare, and with no expectation of recognition. Steven was born in Melbourne in 1960 to John and Ellen Glass. His mother’s family escaped ... Read More »

White-collar crooks face up to 15 years in jail under new penalties

Banking executives face up to 15 years in jail under tough new laws to stamp out white-collar crime as the corporate regulator prepares to crack down on misconduct in the sector. Sarah Danckert The Sydney Morning Herald On Friday, the Senate passed a long-awaited bill that drastically increases the penalties for white-collar crime. Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s deputy chairman, enforcement, Daniel Crennan, QC, welcomed the passing of the bill on Friday. “Now ASIC will be in a position to ... Read More »

Four lessons from 11 years of Closing the Gap reports

Scott Morrison today became the fifth prime minister to deliver a Closing the Gap report to parliament – the 11th since the strategy began in 2008. Nicholas Biddle The Conversation Closing the Gap has aimed to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with particular respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes. Almost every time a prime minister delivers the report, he or she states the need to move ... Read More »

‘Highly irresponsible’: Senate calls for Great Barrier Reef Foundation to return money

A committee examining the government’s decision to award $443.3m to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has recommended unspent funds from the controversial grant be returned to the commonwealth and… Lisa Cox The Guardian The final report, tabled in the Senate on Thursday, calls the awarding of the grant last year “a highly irresponsible decision, hastily concocted by relevant ministers” and calls for a fresh review of the… It recommends such a review be completed by July this year and used to guide ... Read More »

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Kerryn Phelps on medical transfer numbers

Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for the medical transfers legislation, says its passage is “a remarkable exercise in cooperation”. Michelle Grattan The Conversation Phelps says that of the about 1000 people on Manus and Nauru “around 70 people require urgent medical evacuation” and “another couple of hundred will require transfer but not as urgently”. She describes Scott Morrison’s proposal to reopen the Christmas Island detention facility as a “political statement”. “What we need to do is ... Read More »

Nine facts about the medical evacuation bill

With all kinds of misleading claims about what this package does, let’s spell out some basic facts Katharine Murphy The Guardian With the medical evacuations bill now cleared by the Senate, and with politicians coming off the long run with all kinds of misleading claims about what this package does, let’s spell out some basic facts. How do the medical evacuation procedures work? The new legislation sets out the conditions by which sick people on Nauru and Manus Island can ... Read More »

Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks down threat to Coalition after loss in Parliament vote

The future of the Coalition’s hold on power is at risk with the Federal Government becoming the first to lose a vote on its own legislation in almost 80 years. By political reporter Brett Worthington ABC The majority of the crossbench and Labor joined forces in the House of Representatives to pass amendments to give doctors a greater say on refugee medical evacuations. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far refused to buckle to calls for an early election ... Read More »