“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

About Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who practises principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law. He is also a human rights and refugee advocate, and author.

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More outrages on the flawed Myki system in Melbourne

Here is a story from a Melbourne man who got bullied into paying $75 on the spot even though he had not even been on public transport at all! “On 24/09/2014, I was crossing Collins Street in Melbourne CBD at a point where there is also a tram stop. There was a Public Transport official on the platform of the tram stop, busily writing a ticket for somebody else as I walked past him. He stopped me as I passed him and he asked to see my validated MYKI card. I said that I don’t have one, I do not use public transport and I was just crossing the road. He claimed that he saw me step off a tram, which was quite impossible, given that he was preoccupied at the time writing out a ticket. Anyway, he then proceeded to issue me with a fine, and when I stated that I did not wish to provide my personal details to him since I had done nothing wrong, he called a nearby policeman over. Between them, they proceeded to intimidate me to the point where I reluctantly agreed to pay a $75 on-the spot fine on my credit card. As I said, I felt intimidated by the two of them, and they left me with little choice. If I had not either provided my personal details or allowed the public transport officer to process an on-the-spot fine against my credit card, the policeman implied that I would be arrested. If I provided my personal details and allowed the public transport officer to issue me with a normal fine, I...

The Border Force Hits Town: Operation Fortitude

Breaking news: the operation has now been cancelled: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2015/aug/28/protest-against-border-force-visa-crackdown-shuts-melbourne-streets-live  The comments below still applyP perhaps with more force, given the strength of public reaction. On the weekend of 29-31 August, 2015, the newly-minted Australian Border Force was to take part in a massive operation in Melbourne’s CBD.  On Friday afternoon, it was called off. The border Force PR department had put a press release about this on its website: http://newsroom.border.gov.au/releases/abf-joining-inter-agency-outfit-to-target-crime-in-melbourne-cbd It included juicy snippets like this: “This weekend Australian Border Force (ABF) officers will for the first time join forces with a diverse team of transport and enforcement agencies to target crime in the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) as part of Operation Fortitude. … With a particular focus on people travelling to, from and around the CBD, the group of agencies will work together to support the best interests of Melbournians, targeting everything from anti-social behaviour to outstanding warrants. … ABF Regional Commander Victoria and Tasmania, Don Smith, is proud the ABF will be participating in the operation. “ …ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with,” Mr Smith said. “You need to be aware of the conditions of your visa; if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out.” … The inter-agency outfit will continue to work together on an ongoing basis to target crime in and around the Melbourne CBD to make the city a safer place for everyone.” The recently-created Border Force is kitted out in uniforms which bear an unfortunate resemblance to SS uniforms....

The impact of cuts to Art funding

Understanding the effect of cutting over $100 million from the Australia Council Budget “The last time there were similar cuts, when severe budget cuts wiped out the entire middle sector of Australian theatre in the 1990s, the culture took twenty years to recover. I believe these budget cuts are much more serious.” – Alison Croggon, submission to the Senate Inquiry into Arts Funding Mary Lou Jelbart, who runs fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne has sent the following newsletter to supporters of fortyfivedownstairs.  It shows plainly how the arts are being hit by Senator Brandis’ reduction of funding for the Australia Council. Many arts lovers are finding it difficult to comprehend just how powerful an impact the Government’s 30% cut to the Australia Council will have, and it’s hard for non-practitioners to work out why it matters so much. The opera, the ballet, the major theatre companies and the orchestras have been “quarantined” from the cuts, and their funding will not be affected. Instead, the cuts will have to come from grants to individuals, small to medium sized organisations, and independent theatre companies nationally. This amounts to a 57% cut of previous total funding. Already small grant programs for artists in their early years after graduation have vanished, and two of this years’ four funding rounds have been cancelled. fortyfivedownstairs does not receive funding from the Australia Council or other public funding sources. However, arts venues have already been seriously affected by the cancellation of theatre seasons scheduled for 2016 due to companies’ inability to apply for funding support. For example, in the past 9 years, fortyfivedownstairs has supported and/or presented over...

Serco and Border Force bring cruety to new levels

The cruelty and indifference of Serco and Border Force continue to astound. Mojgan Shamsalipoor was in year 12 at school in Brisbane and was taken into detention. Then she was put in detention at BITA, the detention centre in Brisbane.  Then she gave an interview to the ABC, and she was moved to detention at Wickham Point in Darwin, despite the fact that her husband (Milad Jafari, a permanent resident) lives in Brisbane. Her removal from detention in Brisbane was brutal.  She was dragged out in the middle of the night by the hair.  Five or six Serco guards were invovled in the exercise: to remove a young woman from detention in one place and move her to Darwin, 3000 kilometers from her husband and friends.  In the detention trade, this is known as “an extraction”. Here is an account of Mojgan’s “extraction” She was put in detention in Darwin.  A lawyer in Darwin agreed to try and help her.  Then the next bit of wilful bastardry happened. Here is his request to visit Mojgan: “…Please find attached a legal visit request for Mojgan Shamsalipoor on Wednesday 12 August at 2pm. I confirm that I have been engaged to represent this client, and [name deleted] who will be accompanying me is an intern at our firm….” Here is their response: “Good afternoon, Can you please provide evidence you represent Mojgan Shamsalipoor?” Mojgan’s solicitor replied: “As you are aware, Ms Shamsalipoor has recently been transferred to WPIDC. We were instructed to represent her only yesterday, and will not be able to have an authority signed by her (e.g. by way...

Wind Farm Music Dedicated to Tony Abbott

Here is the first performance of Wind Farm Music Dedicated to Tony Abbott  https://youtu.be/fbLiBCdZyBg And here is another: https://youtu.be/ky-w9qrCO-E Lots more to follow, I hope The score and parts are available, free of charge, here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/zgkxv0xa8xwpp/Wind_Farm_Music I recently commissioned Sydney-based composer Lyle Chan to write a short piece for piano trio. We were chatting at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.  I thought about commissioning him to write something.  Normally  when I commission a piece, I give the composer a completely free hand. But for the first time, I had very specific requirements: I wanted a short piece of music for piano, violin and cello, which must contain quotes from famous pieces of classical music, and  must be called “Wind Farm Music, Dedicated to Tony Abbott”. Lyle completed the piece within a week, and  wrote the following epigraph to the score: “This music is a vision of happy wind turbines, high in the air, soaking up the sunshine, catching fragments of music that rise into the sky after it leaves the ears of the people who listen to them. The music tangles up in their airfoils and the turbines are laughing, delighted. “ From the windmills of the middle ages to the first electricity producing turbine in the 19th century, human beings have ground grain and pumped water with wind power. This music – the music of Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Rossini – was around at that time, and the music is still here today, reminding us that it witnessed humans who knew a kinder and more loving way of fulfilling its needs. Political?  Of course.  There is a long and...

Year 12 student taken from school and put in detention

A Year 12 asylum seeker students from the Brisbane Detention Centre spoke on the radio about her plight on Monday. Last night the centre was put into lockdown, none of the children or teens were allowed to go to school today, then early this morning 5 officers came to take her by force to the Darwin detention centre. All that for one girl. The detention centre staff say they didn’t even know it was happening. She only  had 12 weeks of school left until graduation. A talented and well-liked student. She could not say goodbye to family, friends, or her teachers. All Australians should ask themselves: Is this really how we...

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Julian on Twitter

Person fined for fare evasion. Only legally crossed a street, did not use PT. No right to appeal. julianburnside.com.au/more-outrages-… via @JulianBurnside Retweeted by Julian Burnside

More outrages on the flawed #myki system. This really takes the cake: julianburnside.com.au/more-outrages-…

Lentara crowdfunding campaign to provide cost-free housing for asylum seekers in Melbourne at risk of homelessness chuffed.org/project/asylum…

@JulianBurnside hits the nail on the head as always - on misleading political rhetoric. 'It is outrageous ...' shar.es/1v58du Retweeted by Julian Burnside

“There are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship.” ― Ai Weiwei #QuoteOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/OhRArsIOKA Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

The Liberals have been caught lying again - about, you know, jobs and ChAFTA. #auspol pic.twitter.com/Dp6NkgNxZr Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Twitter Media

Border Force fiasco: They managed to be hopeless, embarassing, and sinister all at the same time theage.com.au/victoria/borde… #BorderFarce

Citizens of Melbourne, Border Force is concerned for your safety | First Dog on the Moon gu.com/p/4bqky/stw

The lesson? An independent judiciary is indispensable to justice and freedom #FreeAJStaff. Retweeted by Julian Burnside

How do we get @TonyHWindsor for PM? Republican movement changing our parliament? twitter.com/TaodeHaas/stat… Retweeted by Julian Burnside

@JulianBurnside ...and cowardly. Blaming underlings for your own mistakes tells us all we need to know about our current leadership. Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Abbott and #BorderForce boss blame "low level officer" ie the ABF boss of Vic & Tas. Scandalous to duck the issue. Who's running the show?

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