The final sitting of the Australian Parliament for 2021 is from Monday until Thursday next week. In the embedded video, I explain how, if it chose to, the Federal Government could have acted long ago to force the British Government to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange. Australians must make the government act to free Julian Assange, or else, hold it to account should it continue to fail to do so.
During Victoria's lockdown(s), I re-read The Plague, by Albert Camus, which was a prescribed text for me and other Higher School Certificate students (Year 12) way back in 1972. The plot concerns the Algerian town of Oran, which is struck down by bubonic plague in the 1940s. The townsfolk are sealed off and isolated from the outside world, as the plague exacts an increasingly terrible and deadly toll. The book depicts their different reactions to their situation. It has immense power in getting to the heart of what things, and what values, are important in life.
The plague in Oran, and the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, have some clear differences. While the people of Oran are cut off from the world, they are not cut off from each other. They mix at restaurants and cafes and the like. Social distancing doesn’t play any noticeable role – whether this was wise from a health perspective is not spelt out.
Many Australians think that if they are accused of a crime, they have a right to a trial by jury. They are therefore shocked when they only appear before a judge, and are encouraged to plead guilty/admit to the charges, without the option of a jury. It feels like being rail-roaded. Research indicates that judges who are regularly called upon to hear criminal prosecutions without juries become 'case-hardened' and prosecution-minded, according to "Trial by Jury" by Graham Fricke, of which we reproduce the first part here. As far as we know, not much has changed since this article first appeared in the Australian Parliamentary Library - in 1996, going by this more recent Victorian Law Reform Commission article on the subject.
"Biden is like Trump without the Tweets." The British are known for their "permanent opportunism." "Boris Johnson is like a fifth wheel." US State Department falsely claimed it communicated with the French. China is attempting to make the China Sea into a kind of internal sea. Australia is losing sovereignty to America. US submarines would arrive ten years later than the French ones, so urgency cannot be the reason for breach of contract. (French Minister for Foreign Affairs).
Australia cannot become a staging point for the U.S. military, we cannot abrogate our sovereignty to the U.S., we cannot encourage nuclear proliferation and risk environmental catastrophe.
Australian peace, environmental and other activists and organisations are opposed to the Morrison Government decision to join the trilateral security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) and the development of nuclear submarines.
This authoritarian decision, taken without consultation or engagement of the Australian public, undermines Australian sovereignty, wastes taxpayers money, damages the environment and poses a threat to peace in the region and to global peace.
With this agreement, the Australian Government can no longer claim it is remaining neutral between Beijing and Washington. Now Australia is ‘all in’ with America, regardless of the public.
This agreement also cements military dependence on the U.S. as Australia becomes unable to operate without Washington’s approval. Furthermore, the Morrison Government has also committed to allowing further U.S. military forces into Australia.
This will not only deny Australia the ability to act independently but will also make it complicit in dangerous regional tensions and conflict, undermining global cooperation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Monumental foreign policy decisions cannot be made without any public engagement behind closed doors.
- A nuclear-powered submarine fleet will represent a fundamental threat to global peace.
- Aukus cements Australia as a subordinate of the U.S. (Independent Peaceful Australia Network - IPAN)
"The shocking announcement of a trilateral security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia (Aukus), which will be tied to Australia receiving nuclear submarines, is a blow to Australia’s independence and peace in the region.
The security partnership, Aukus, was announced without any public scrutiny or engagement.
While China was not mentioned in the announcement it is clear that this partnership is designed to confront and contain China, in a belligerent and dangerous manner." (IPAN)
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has welcomed the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that show population growth has fallen to near zero (0.1 per cent) despite an apparent baby boom. Yesterday, the ABS released figures for the year ending March 31. Australia’s population grew by 35,700 or 0.14 per cent. Annual natural increase was 131,000 and net overseas migration (NOM) was -95,300. This news came not long after NSW Health announced more than 19,000 babies were born in NSW hospitals from April to June this year, a nine per cent increase on the same period last year.
Victoria is also experiencing a baby boom with the maternity system stretched to “breaking point”, according to the Victorian health minister, Martin Foley.
“News that our overall population growth has dropped to almost zero is very welcome,” the president of SPA Ms Jenny Goldie says. “In the initial period of border closures, the large number of people leaving the country compared to those entering meant NOM was negative, though not quite enough to offset natural increase of 131,000. In the current year, growth will be higher since most of those that would leave Australia have done so already.
The mainstream media has given a great deal of coverage to the COVID-19 pandemic - as it should - but interwoven among the stories on poor vaccination rates, conspiracy theories, and the people ignoring quarantine, there is a consistent run of horror stories on the impact of lockdowns, often with a message that we must get back to the pre pandemic "normal" life. This is understandable, businesses are going broke, unemployment is rising, domestic violence and mental illness are increasing. It is an unpleasant situation, but returning to the old norm is not a solution. This, after all, was the lifestyle that created human movement into wilderness areas, bringing us into contact with pathogens that we have little resistance to combat.
While Covid is terrible, Ebola is far worse, as was the Black Death before antibiotics, and scientists warn that there are more diseases in the pipe line, either through contact with animals, or the mutations of existing ones. We have made pandemics more likely by concentrating humans in apartment towers, prisons, aged-care centres, and supermarkets. As well, we have simplified transmission, with fast transport systems that spread the virus rapidly around the globe, while human failures - denial, human rights issues - all assist in keeping the virus in circulation.
It's interesting how so many sentences and ideas now trail off into the inevitable denouement "… but that didn't happen because of Covid"…"We had to change plans because of Covid." It's as though Sir Humphrey Covid is some VIP, for whom doors must be opened and the seas must part. Or, as though Covid is an unexpected first born baby to a couple in their 40s whose lives are now utterly transformed. "We couldn't celebrate Henry's birthday this year because of … Baby Covid." "Covid" could be anything or anyone terribly important - one's mother in law arriving from Europe or a visitation from a long dead relative. All must stop … for Covid!
One of my friends refuses to name this interloper, usually spoken of with such reverence. This seems an excellent way of handling the situation!
According to the recently publicly released summary of offending, it is still unknown what offences Mr Johns pleaded guilty to, why he was given a term of imprisonment, exactly why the proceedings were conducted entirely in camera, and why even the ACT Attorney-General was never made aware that he was imprisoned in a correctional facility which the Attorney ultimately oversees,” Dr Brasch QC said.
At today’s hearing before the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM), the Law Council of Australia emphasised that trials involving national security need to strike a balance between secrecy and open justice.
The hearing forms part of review into the operation of section 22 of the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth) (NSI Act), as it applies in the ‘Alan Johns’ matter (a pseudonym).
“The Law Council recognises that there may be cases where suppression of information about criminal offending and closure of courts to the public are necessary to protect national security information,” Law Council President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, said.
On 3 June, Peter Khalil, Labor member for the Melbourne metropoliton seat of Wills, presented to Federal Parliament a petition from one of his constituents on behalf of Australian journalist Julian Assange. The video of Peter Khalil's speech is embedded below.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be sitting this coming fortnight, firstly, on Tuesday 15 June and then the following two days and, secondly, on Monday 21 June and the following three days. Members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary Group could use these sittings to properly hold to account the Government of Scott Morrison over Julian Assange through a proper debate. They could consider putting to both houses a motion which calls on the Government to act to end the illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange. A motion I have already suggested to members of the group is included below.
Once such a motion is put, then each and every member of the both houses will face the choice: Vote to instruct Scott Morrison to use his authority as Prime Minister of Australia to act to free Julian Assange from Belmarsh Prison or be shown up before the voting public as being in support of the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange.
The video inside the article is a record of the third ARAG (Ashburton Residents Action Group) public rally over six years in the residential battle to protect Markham Estate and the surrounding streets and environment.
What was once a 56 apartment, two storey public housing community in Ashburton turned into a six year nightmare for residents when the State Government announced it would be replacing the 56 apartments with 240, of which only 60 would be for public housing; the rest to be sold privately for a fortune.
This outrageous proposal galvanised the community and they have been fighting for a fair go and consultation ever since.
Speakers at this rally included ARAG leaders Ian and Rita, David Davis (Shadow Planning Minister), Cr Garry Thompson (Mayor of Boroondara) and Clifford Hayes MP (Sustainable Australia Party).
In attendance was Will Fowles MP (Member for Burwood) who declined to speak.
Can Palestine be liberated while the US illegally occupies Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Apparently Melbourne's pro-Palestine movement thinks Palestine can be liberated while Syria has much of its territory illegally occupied and US troops also illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.
I attended both the Freedom Protest and the huge pro-Palestine Protest in Melbourne yesterday on 15 May 2021. At both protests I intended to show my support for each of those two respective causes and to distribute our leaflet on Julian Assange. 
Unfortunately, I did not stay long at the Freedom Protest, because I thought that it would be more promising and and more productive to go to the pro-Palestine protest. My reason was that I supposed the Palestine protest would attract a wide range of related left-wing causes, such as people who support the Syrian and Venezuelan people. I also expected that people there would be very receptive to the leaflet in support of Julian Assange I had to distribute.
The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network calls on the Australian Government to stop its support of the Israeli occupation and condemn the theft of Palestinian homes and land by Israel.
The Australian Government cannot pretend it does not have a role in the violence perpetrated by the Israeli military against Palestinians.
The Government has given a substantial amount of money to Israeli weapon manufacturers who supply the occupation, including $1.8 billion worth of Government contracts to Israeli weapon manufacturer Elbit Systems since 2010.
Furthermore, the Government's claim that occupied Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and failure to recognise both the Palestinian State as well as Palestinians' right to self-defence, amounts to support of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Over recent days, we have also seen the Israeli military raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, which may amount to a war crime; kill over 100 people, including 28 children; assist extremists in stealing Palestinian houses; and conduct a ground invasion of Gaza.
Due to these events, the ongoing occupation and, as Humans Rights Watch recently reported, Israel's perpetuation of an Apartheid system, IPAN calls on the Government to:
India is in a terrible state due to the pandemic, a situation largely the result of gross mismanagement by the government. The spread of the virus was difficult to control because of high-density cities that made lock-downs extremely difficult for residents, and safe separation impossible. A highly infectious new variant may also be a driver, but there are other factors, including an underfunded health service, and a severe shortage of doctors. India needs about 600,000 more doctors, just to meet the WHO recommendations for doctor to patient ratio. Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. A study by the Indian Journal of public health found that, because of population growth, India will need another 2 million doctors by 2030.
Yet training more doctors is but part of the solution, as it is becoming increasingly clear that India is in a highly competitive battle with developed countries to retain the services of their newly minted doctors.
“Out of the total number of graduates, 10% are opting for pastures abroad. The basic fact is that India needs them, and India is not in a position to retain them,” says Dr. Vedprakash Mishra, vice chancellor of DMIMS University, a medical college in Nagpur.
Mike Pezzullo, Federal Government Home Affairs Department Secretary, a public servant, talked up war in an Anzac Day speech on 26 April 2021.
He was referring to China's ambitions to integrate Taiwan as a federation within mainland China government, by force or persuasion.
He cited Australia's 70 year old ANZUS alliance with the United States and New Zealand as a.
Finally, obscenely, he spoke of sending off, "yet again, our warriors to fight."
What kind of fight do a few Australian 17 or 18 year olds have with nuclear weapons and a Chinese army more than 2 million strong? What kind of war can you have to save "our precious liberty" from 'communism' [last I saw, China was a capitalist dictatorship] without simultaneously incinerating the rest of the planet, these days?
[Look up New Zealand's ideas on this]
One of Australia’s most powerful national security figures says free nations “again hear the beating drums” of war, as military tensions in the Indo-Pacific rise.
In an Anzac Day message to staff, Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo said Australia must strive to reduce the likelihood of war “but not at the cost of our precious liberty”.
Mr Pezzullo also invoked the memory of two United States war generals and warned this nation must be prepared “to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight”.
Last Thursday 25 March, during the Senate Estimates Hearing, Greens Senator for Victoria, Janet Rice (pictured left), asked Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured right) to explain her failure to act to free Australian journalist Julian Assange from his imprisonment in Belmarsh Prison in London.
Given the very short time allowed for Janet Rice to pursue this issue, she did remarkably well in cutting through Marise Payne's evasions and attempts to obfuscate the issue.
Victorian Kangaroos need your signature on this petition! They have been decimated by bushfires and the Victorian Government estimates of numbers are way out. The Mornington Peninsula contains a landlocked group of grey kangaroos that are menaced by several processes, including increased development, traffic, fencing, shooting, and the so-called Kangaroo Harvest Program (KHP). These animals need our help and protection. The petition calls upon the Victorian Government to suspend its 'harvest' program. See below.
Legislative Council E-Petitions https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/320
Click here to sign
Over the past year, the Center for a Humane Economy worked closely with United States Representatives Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., to formulate legislation to ban the trade in kangaroo-sourced products into the United States. When the “Kangaroo Protection Act” was introduced into Congress on February 9, 2021, word spread quickly throughout Australia by way of the press (ABC, Leader, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald) and social media, for which we have many organizations to thank.
Trailer inside. "An Australian tale of retribution, revenge, redemption and reconciliation." Screening and Q&A session at Rosebud Cinema, 7 PM Saturday 13th March of The Flood by screenwriter, director and producer, Victoria Wharfe McIntyre.The movie was mainly filmed around Kangaroo Valley NSW, it has become a stunning visual record of so much that was lost in the Southern NSW mega fires. Click on this link for tickets.
A fundamentally flawed proposal to bust open super for first home buyers housing deposits could hike the nation’s five major capital city median property prices by between 8-16%, preliminary analysis from Industry Super Australia shows.
Allowing couples to take $40,000 from super would send property prices skyrocketing in all state capitals, but the impact would be most severe in Sydney, where the median property price could lift a staggering $134,000. (see table 1 below)
In most areas the price increases and extra property taxes would quickly surpass the amount of super a first home buyer could withdraw, so homebuyers would be paying more but at the expense of their super. In all cities but Hobart if a couple took out $40,000 from their super, nearly all would be lost through the price hikes the increased demand would fuel, in Sydney prices would spike by three times that amount.
The market would react quickly to the scheme becoming a reality, within a year the full price increases would likely be realised.
Many potential buyers would soon be locked out of the supercharged market, others would be lumped with far bigger mortgages – and would hit retirement with little savings and only the pension to rely on.
Facebook’s news ban has just hit the Australian Unions website.
This means that workers cannot join their unions via our website if it is posted on Facebook.
This is a disgraceful attack on Australians’ right to join a union and a serious undemocratic act of censorship.
Facebook already has a record of empowering anti-union corporations with tools to de-unionise and undermine workers’ rights – for example, last year they gave employers the power to blacklist terms like “unionise” from their Facebook pages.
You can fight back against big tech’s anti-democratic, anti-worker actions by joining your union and passing this email and QR code onto others who are not yet members.
Facebook’s attempts to quash workers’ organising won’t stop us. We know that thousands of Australians just like you won’t let their right to join a union be taken away by big tech.
It’s only by taking direct, immediate action together that we will be able to send a message to the Facebook bosses: no matter how hard they try to stop us, working people will always stand together against massive corporate interests.
Fight back against Facebook. Join your union right now.
|Federal Labour Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese ('Albo' - pictured right), on Australia Day, tweeted in praise of local Australian heroes, with the glaring exception of Julian Assange, the most widely-recognised Australian anywhere, whose suffering is unfathomable, and whose services to the anti-war movement are immeasurable. Why wasn't Julian Assange included and why does the Australian Government allow the UK and the US to continue their illegal persecution, imprisonment, and torture, of this Australian citizen?|
Anthony Albanese's Australia Day tweet about Australian local heroes fails to mention another Australian who is at least as heroic of any one of the four people featured in that image, and far more famous: Julian Assange
This is urgent. A rushed Senate inquiry will ignore the recommendations of an independent review and devolve our national nature laws to the states instead. We need you to speak up.
Our nature laws should work to protect nature, not facilitate its destruction. Professor Samuels’ interim report agreed. He recommended a package of reform including strong, binding national standards and an independent ‘cop on the beat’.
But instead of waiting for the final report and developing a new reform package to save our species, the Morrison government re-heated an old Bill from 2014 that will make the extinction crisis worse. This tick-a-box Senate inquiry will hand off federal powers to state governments, with even lower standards.
Reform all aspects of how we treat our ageing population. More real, boots-on-the-ground funding for in home care. In home respite options. More support for carers, and recognition of the huge amount of unpaid work they are doing every single day. Complete overhaul of how income and assets are calculated, the scrapping of the "6 month hardship" rule. Streamlining the process for calculating daily fees and admission to long term placement. Specialised support and advocacy agency within the Department of Human Services, or an independent body, to assist carers to navigate the system. Go to Tara Kostezky's Campaign
Why is this important?
Our care of our ageing population is a National scandal, and a disgrace. There is an appalling shortfall of support services for both participants and carers in the home, lack of real in home respite options, chronic lack of available services in rural areas in particular, poor acknowledgement of the Carers Recognition Act in all dealings with government departments and the health care system...the list goes on and on.
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that GPs would be managing the long-term impacts of the virus on some patients for years to come.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning government that GPs will need adequate resources to manage the long-term care of COVID-19 positive patients. The RACGP has released a guide for GPs providing care to adult patients who have previously tested positive to COVID-19 or have a history suggestive of undiagnosed COVID-19 and have - or are at risk of - post-COVID-19 conditions. The guide was developed in collaboration with HealthPathways. RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that GPs would be managing the long-term impacts of the virus on some patients for years to come.
“Some COVID-19 positive patients quickly make a full recovery but that is certainly not the case for all people,” he said.
“Evidence is emerging that some patients are being left with serious physical, cognitive and psychological impairments that will require long-term care. For these patients, it is not a case of contracting the virus, getting better and never thinking about it again.
Ivor Cummins is a health writer and biochemical engineer, who calls himself The Fat Emperor. He has drafted a letter for people to send to politicians and the press, querying the seriousness of COVID-19. He calls it the "Corona Basic Realities Letter," and writes, advocating 'herd immunity', as one of his 'indisputable facts', that: "Sweden, who were vilified for their approach, has had a very similar death rate to other countries." But Sweden actually has had a much higher death rate than its neighbours, although it did practice social distancing and other hygiene measures, whilst leaving businesses open etc.
The virus killed more than 5800 people in the relevant period, giving Sweden one of the world’s highest per capita mortality rates.
To compare those figures with other Scandinavian countries, Denmark has recorded 621 deaths, Finland has recorded 334 deaths, and Norway 262." [Sweden has about twice the population of the other Nordic countries, but the number of deaths is still very high in comparison.]