The culture of many Myki Authorised Officers continues to be appalling. Consider this message I received recently:
(On a suburban train) I was approached by a ticket inspector who asked me to show him my ticker.
At the time I was reading reports from my family overseas about my grandmother who had had a heart attack and so I asked him to wait. He then asked me again to show him my ticket and I again asked him to wait. This happened a couple more times at which point he said he was going to book me for refusing to provide a valid ticket. At this point I gave him my ticket, which he scanned on his portable Myki reader. The ticket was valid but he proceeded to write me up.
I asked why I was being written up and one of his co-workers told me that I had refused to provide my ticket. I replied that I had never refused to provide my ticket and he stated again that I had.
At this point we arrived at (my stop). I walked off the train walked up to a couple of PSO’s standing on the platform. The ticket inspectors followed me and accused me in front of the PSO of refusing to provided them with a valid ticket and refusing to give them my details. I told the ticket inspector that I had done neither and asked one of the PSO to note that the ticket inspector had my Myki in his possession. I then gave both the PSO’s and the ticket inspectors my name and address.
I received the two infringement notices and appealed them to the relevant authority. I supplied them with proof that I had a valid ticket at the time, and the details of the event.
I received a reply saying that they accept that I had a valid ticket but that because I failed to produce my ticket “without delay” they would not waive any of the infringement notices.
So: he had a valid ticket and he offered ID, but they booked him anyway, and on review the Public Transport Victoria decide to pursue him. What a waste of time and money. The PTV seems to have an unerring ability to make the public hate the government.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation colleague Senator-elect Malcolm Roberts says Pauline Hanson is a “highly intelligent” and competent person who will hold One Nation together. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Malcolm Roberts does not impress as intellectually gifted. The Age online reports on 7 August 2016:
“Speaking on ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, Senator Roberts, the climate sceptic who secured One Nation’s second Queensland Senate spot last week, also challenged anyone at the national broadcaster to provide “empirical evidence” that proves human production of carbon dioxide is affecting the climate.”
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists (about 97% of them) disagree with him. Here are some actual facts from the Climate Institute in response to Roberts.
If climate scientists are right, we have to take urgent action on climate change. Even Tony Abbott eventually acknowledged that climate change is real and (at least in part) anthropogenic. Even so, it must be noted that his chief business advisor, Maurice Newman, denies climate change as did some members of Abbott’s cabinet.
But let’s assume Roberts is right and climate scientists are wrong. And of course they might be wrong: scientific truth is not decided by majority vote. If they are wrong, and we act quickly as they say, we will spend a lot of money for no advantage. But if they are right and we do nothing…
Suppose there is an 80% chance that all the scientists are wrong (that is, only a 20% chance they are right). If we do nothing about climate change there is only a 20% chance of a catastrophic outcome. A one in five chance of an avoidable, catastrophic outcome.
But that is worse odds than Russian roulette. In Russian roulette, a revolver with 6 chambers has just one bullet in it. When you hold the revolver to your head and pull the trigger, you have a one chance in six of a bad outcome. One in six is better odds than one in five
It may be objected that, in Russian roulette, you hold the gun to your head, and if the one in six chance goes against your child, then the child dies. If climate science is right, we won’t all die. OK, so try playing Russian roulette with your children, but hold the gun to their stomach: if the one in six chance goes against your child, it’s not fatal, just dangerous and very painful.
Other arguments which support taking action on Climate Change just in case include this: if you were told that 97% of engineers predicted that a particular bridge is unsafe and will collapse, will you walk across it? If the airline tells you there is a 97% chance that the plane will crash, will you nevertheless get on board?
Those who would withhold action on Climate Change (by denying it, or by extending the argument about the steps that should be taken, thereby delaying any action at all) are playing Russian roulette with our children’s future.
Among those people are Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts. The tragedy is that if their stupidity results in further delay on Climate Change, they will not live to see the consequences for the next generation.
Peter Dutton MP, Malcolm Turnbull PM note this. You are now fixed with knowledge of the fact that medical care for refugees on Manus and Nauru are appalling. You will not be able to hide behind a pretence of not knowing about it, when the next person dies because of YOUR neglect.
Hamid Khazaiee, who had been held on Nauru, died because of criminal neglect in the Immigration Department. Scott Morrison pretended not to know.
Right now, another man held on Manus is suffering from blood poisoning and IHMS is doing nothing useful to save his life. About six weeks ago he picked up a bad bacteria from somewhere and his tongue swelled up. The infection has now spread to the rest of his body. He appears to be developing a blood infection. He has become very ill over the last six weeks or so. He has lost weight and has several large weeping sores on his body, he can’t hold food down. He is running a temperature. He is weak and listless. He says he feels like he is dying.
Here are some photographs. Remember, this started as a swollen tongue:
Requests to evacuate him to Brisbane for proper treatment have been ignored.
IF THIS MAN DIES YOU, DUTTON and TURNBULL, WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SAY YOU DID NOT KNOW.
Human Rights Lawyer & Doctors: Medical Care for Refugees on Manus and Nauru ‘Medieval’
Adjunct Professor George Newhouse, Principal of the National Justice Project based in Sydney, said today that the medical facilities for refugees on both Manus Island and Nauru were a disgrace.
Commenting on an item in The Guardian*, Professor Newhouse said,
“The standard of medical care on both Manus and on Nauru is, in a word, medieval. And that is a disgraceful reflection on the Australian Government that funds them”, said Mr Newhouse.
“The National Justice Project, Newhouse’s not-for-profit human rights law centre in Sydney was being swamped by claims of delays and medical mismanagement of refugee health on Nauru, he said.
“We are investigating a death on Nauru which appears to have been caused by negligence and a delay in the Australian Governent approving a medical evacuation. We have dozens of cases of individuals and families suffering in pain without proper care or treatment.”
“We act for children with untreated autism being denied early intervention therapies and proper care. There are adolescent children whose arms are being deformed because they urgently require an adjustment to the plate which repaired a compound fracture in their arm. No child living in Australia would ever have to put up with such shocking treatment. So why are these kids, under the direct care of Australia, suffering like this?”
Refugee advocate Sally Thompson agreed that “The Australian Government is throwing $26 million at the Republic of Nauru Hospital and what have they got? Belatedly, they have 4 clean hospital beds, a lot of dirt, a CAT scan machine and very little medical continuity”.
“Australian doctors have recommended urgent treatment for ‘Breast Patient R’ but she has now been waiting 11 months. That is just one of many cases where medical care is chaotic and poorly administered”, she said.
Prof Newhouse and Ms Thompson have joined Doctors4Refugees in demanding that the cruelty and neglect of refugees ends immediately.
“These are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. They are under the direct care and responsibility of the Australian Government. And the way we treat them is shameful. It has to stop. Now,” said Prof Newhouse.
GP Barri Phatarfod, Convenor of Doctors for Refugees, agrees with Prof Newhouse that Patient R’s breast lump case is indeed the tip of a very large iceberg.
Today she said, “Doctors for Refugees is currently reviewing over 100 cases of medical concern in the immigration detention system. Some of these cases involve prolonged delays for the recommended treatment: sometimes over years.
“Many are for serious issues (like the patient with the breast lump), which clearly would have been appropriately investigated 10 months ago were she anywhere in Australia.
“Several are for highly urgent cases such as traumatic head injuries following assaults – there have been a number of these on Nauru – when an MRI has not been performed.
“If doctors in Australia treated their patients with the same chaos, lack of follow-up and investigation many would be reported to the regulatory bodies.
“These 100 are only the cases that have been referred to us by the extensive volunteer advocacy networks. The more serious ones we often hear about only there is an adverse event”, added Dr Phatarfod.
“It is a complete untruth that the people in the offshore detention system are given medical treatment broadly comparable to that in the Australian communities.
Dr Phatarfod concluded, “Having worked in rural and remote communities from Alice Springs to Bourke, I know that no woman with a breast lump or the myriad of other potentially serious conditions that we see ever waits that long for the required investigation. And no Australian doctor, however junior, should have his or her request to medically transfer a patient overridden by a government bureaucrat”.
Most Australians have trouble understanding what it means to put your life in the hands of a people smuggler, or why anyone would do it. Try to imagine that you are a refugee: you are part of an ethnic minority in Afghanistan. Your people have been the target of ethnic cleansing for more than a century. You have friends and family members who have been killed by Taliban snipers and suicide bombers. You know children who were blown to bits when the Taliban used them as mine-sweepers. You know of the teenager who was forced back to Afghanistan from Nauru in 2002 and who was hunted down by the Taliban: when they found him in his village, they dragged him out of his house and threw him down the village well, and dropped a hand grenade in after him.
You have borrowed enough money to get to Australia: it is cheaper than getting to Europe or America. With your family you make your way to Indonesia, passing through Muslim countries which do not offer protection because they have not signed the Refugees’ Convention.
In Indonesia you can go to the UNHCR and get a card which vouches that you are a refugee, but it doesn’t mean much because the Indonesian government will jail you if they find you, and you aren’t allowed to work, and you can’t send your kids to school. You will wait in the shadows until some country offers to resettle you. It could take 10 or 20 years.
There is one line of escape: you can pay a people smuggler who will take you to Australia by boat. It is dangerous, but it is a chance for freedom and safety, for you and for your kids.
Imagine yourself there. What would you do?
What would most Australians do? What would our political leaders do, if they were in that position? (Try asking them: they won’t tell you)
I know I would take the risk, and I suspect most Australians would do the same. You know that if your luck runs out you could die trying to reach safety. But if ISIL or the Taliban get you, you are just as dead as if you drown.
Most Australians don’t have to make these agonising choices but if we did, we would not be grateful to a government for cutting off our last line of escape. But that is exactly what Australian politicians do.
We have a harsh system of offshore detention: we take boat people by force, against their will, and dump them on Nauru or Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). This is said to be a deterrent. When people die in offshore detention (they do) our politicians tell us those deaths are a necessary part of the deterrent.
The idea of deterrence is to make getting on a boat less attractive than the alternatives. Take the example of a Hazara from Afghanistan (over the past 15 years, most boat people have been Hazaras from Afghanistan). They get here by being taken through Pakistan then to Malaysia by plane and from Malaysia to Indonesia by plane. Their travel papers are provided by the people smuggler, who takes them back again when they reach Indonesia.
If the journey is intercepted in Malaysia or Indonesia, they face the prospect of staying there for years or (more likely) decades until some country offers to resettle them. Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia have not signed the Refugees Convention and will jail them if they are found. They cannot work and cannot send their kids to school. If they go back to Pakistan or Afghanistan, they face the real prospect of being killed by the Taliban. Hazaras have been the target of ethnic cleansing for more than a century, but especially since the Taliban came on the scene a few decades ago. Most Hazaras living in Afghanisan or Pakistan have friends and family members who have been killed by Taliban snipers and suicide bombers. Most Hazaras know children who were blown to bits when the Taliban used them as mine-sweepers.
So, put broadly, the alternatives are a life of real fear and persecution in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or a life of fear and hopelessness in Malaysia or Indonesia. When the alternative is a dangerous boat trip to a life of safety in Australia, only the timid will be deterred.
Getting on a boat and arriving in Australia to ask for protection is not an offence. It is not illegal. Boat people have not broken any law. They are innocent people. Calling them “illegal” is just a lie which dishonest politicians repeat in order to make cruelty look acceptable. Chief among the dishonest politicians are Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton, all of whom repeatedly called boat people “illegal”. They lie to us so they can get away with betraying the proclaimed Christian values.
Offshore detention involves this: we treat innocent people in such a way as to deter others from trying to get here for protection. Specifically, they will be sent to Nauru (an independent republic, population 8000), or to Manus Island (part of Papua New Guinea). There are two reasons for choosing these places.
- First, they are outside Australia, and the subtext is that when we send boat people there we will shut the door behind them. So we remove the promise of safety and protection and substitute an uncertain, uncomfortable future of waiting. Substituting despair for hope is a pretty effective deterrent.
- Second, they are out of sight and difficult to get to. Community support, which is so important to detainees in Australia, disappears. Refugee supporters are denied access to detainees in Nauru and Manus Island. This enhances the sense of despair of people sent there.
Years of isolation and uncertainty drive people to despair and misery: we have seen in Pacific Solution mark I, we have seen it in detention centres onshore and offshore; we are seeing it again in Pacific Solution mark II. Perhaps someone has done some figures to see just how many years of despair are enough to deter people from having a shot at freedom and safety. Presumably someone in a dark corner of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will do some figures, because it is fantastically expensive to deter people this way. Because Manus and Nauru are remote places, it costs a lot to build the necessary infrastructure and it costs a lot maintain staff there. Typically, it costs about 5 times as much per person per day to warehouse people on Nauru or Manus as it costs to detain them in an Australian detention centre. So, in order to make Australia look less appealing than the Taliban, we will spend about $1600 per person per day during the time they are held on Nauru or Manus. And if the ‘no advantage’ principle is applied, we will hold people for at least 5 years. That comes to about $3 million for each person detained. (Those who think boat people are just economic migrants might lobby government to offer them $1 million per person to go back where they came from. If it worked, it would be a lot cheaper than what we are doing now).
Postscript: since I wrote the piece below, I have been the target of various people who prefer to hide behind anonymous Twitter handles, abusing me for what I say below. For the anonymous haters, I have great pity: most of them seem to suffer from one or both of:
- a reading disorder, which prevents them from actually reading what I wrote; or
- an intellectual disability, which leads them to misunderstand what I wrote: in some cases, so completely that they attribute to me things which are the opposite of what I say below.
Still, it’s nice that they try.
So: let me make my position plain for the people who have been hurling abuse from behind the safety of an anonymous keyboard:
- I do NOT approve of attacks on gays, whether the attacks are motivated by religious belief, malice or hatred.
- I do NOT approve of extremist views – whether ostensibly justified by religious doctrine or any other ideology
- I do NOT adhere to any religion, although I was raised as an Anglican
- I do NOT disapprove of gay people: I think every human being should be able to live their own life, guided by their nature and instincts.
Furthermore, the things I wrote below were not supposed to cover every nuance of religious thinking, nor were they intended to exhaust the field of LGBTI issues. I tried to deal with a limited question posed by someone who seems very excitable, and who has been one of the chief abuse-hurlers. Specifically, it is worth remembering that I was persuaded to comment on things said by the Grand Mufti of Australia, in response to some specific things said by Sheikh Shady. I have no interest at all in chasing everything said by Sheikh Shady: I doubt I would agree with him on much.
Someone called @BasimaFaysal got very excited recently on Twitter about the fact that the Australian Grand Mufti, Dr Mohammed, dined at Kirribilli House with the Prime Minister and others recently.
The asserted cause of the excitement was a statement by Dr Mohammed regarding things said six years ago by Sheikh Shady about homosexuality.
@BasimaFaysal told me I had to respond to the comments. I was on holidays at the time. I have now had a chance to research the matter. In fairness, I should say that I do not adhere to any religion, and I take a much more lenient view of homosexuality than any of the Abrahamic religions do. It seems that Sheikh Shady’s comments were confined to the likelihood of practising homosexuals contracting diseases, which is probably accurate as a matter of medical observation, and it seems that the Grand Mufti’s comments were accurate as a matter of religious doctrine.
In 2010 Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman said that Allah will give gay people ‘diseases that they have never experienced before … if you speak to a doctor – he’ll tell you the most terrifying disease come from what? From sexual activities… or also homosexuality that is spreading all these diseases.’
Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed wrote a two page statement in which he said the sheikh had ‘simply conveyed a religious ruling. … Despite Islam’s long standing position on homosexuality, which no person can ever change, no matter who they are. … That which Sheikh Shady has said regarding homosexuality is simply a conveyance of a religious fact which is known to every practicing person in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.’
What Sheikh Shady said appears to have medical support.
What Dr Mohammed said is undoubtedly accurate. Here is the official position of various religions on the subject of homosexuality:
On being gay:
Christianity: not generally considered sinful in itself, though some see it as a purposeful perversion. Some accept it as a natural alternative, while others regard it as a non-chosen mental disorder akin to alcoholism.
Islam: Not generally condemned
Orthodox: Condemned as rebellion against God.
Conservative: Neither condemned nor affirmed.
Reform: Generally accepted as alternative.
On engaging in homosexual acts:
Christianity: Traditionally considered sinful. Many Christians and denominations continue to uphold this belief, while others have reconsidered it or in the process of doing so.
“A man shall not lie with another man as with a woman; it is an abomination.” -Leviticus 18:22
“Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” -Romans 1:27
Islam: Sinful and punishable under Islamic law.
Qur’an: “We also sent Lut: He said to his people: Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” -Qur’an 7:80-81
Orthodox: Strongly condemned.
Conservative: Violation of Jewish law, disqualifies from Jewish marriage and religious leadership.
Reform: Approved in context of committed relationship; civil marriage supported, but generally not religious marriage.
Bible: “A man shall not lie with another man as with a woman; it is an abomination.” -Leviticus 18:22
It seems that Sheikh Shady’s comments were accurate as a matter of medical observation and that the Grand Mufti’s comments were accurate as a matter of religious doctrine. That said, I do not agree with the official position of any of the Abrahamic religions on this issue.
Helen Razer posted a piece on her Facebook page in which she criticised some Islamophobes as “racist”. They corrected her: Islam is not a race.
She wrote them an apology. When I had finished reading it, I wished I had written it myself. It is an incredibly good piece of writing.
To save some people the effort of writing to set me straight, let me make it clear: I deplore Islamic extremism; I deplore extremism of any kind, supposedly in support of any ideology; I deplore terrorist attacks, especially ones which kill innocent civilians; I deplore people who speak or act as if all Muslims were extremists.
With Helen Razer’s permission, here is her apology. I recommend you read it out loud to someone dear to you:
THIS IS AN APOLOGY. In a post earlier today that linked to an article written by me I incorrectly identified those who disdain Islam as “racist”. I am sorry about this. As you so deftly and cleverly remind me, “Islam is not a race”. You are, therefore, not a racist.
I didn’t mean to call you a racist.
I meant to call you – how can I put this? – history’s worst reflex.
I meant to call you the frail and fearful idiot who learned nothing of the lessons of 1933.
I meant to call you the descendent of Nazism.
I meant, much more kindly, to say that your belief that a little cultural difference is responsible for all the shit in your life is a product of an under-informed mind and an ugly spirit.
I meant to say that I recognise those of you suddenly saying “Well, what about the way they treat gays?” as the same scum who used to beat me up at high school for being a –w what was it you called me? – an “ugly dyke not worth raping”.
I meant to say that you should remember Dachau, Belsen and all the other places in which human lives were sacrificed on the altar built on the foundation of your puny, disgusting hate.
I meant to say that I know your stench: it has offended my nostrils for a lifetime.
I meant to say that if you think Islam is intrinsically evil and you’ve somehow missed that the real “evil” in the world is belched from its financial centres, fuck you very much and you just keep on agreeing with Brave Intellectuals like Sonia Kruger and Andrew Bolt.
I meant to say that you do not need to love people. You do not even need to approve. You just need to fucking accept difference as an inevitable fact of life: but you never will, because you are made by off-cuts of history’s worst mistakes.
I meant to say you have nothing to say to me that I cannot read in the nation’s worst newspapers.
I meant to say you are a receptacle for the ideological shit of powerful others.
I meant to say you sicken me.
But I didn’t mean to call you a racist.
Helen Razer writes for The Daily Review
SEMINAR: A POET’S ARCHIVE
Peter Porter’s Creative Legacy
The National Library is proud to be the custodian of the personal archive of poet Peter Porter. From first drafts to page proofs, from notes to correspondence, the collection reveals the life of an Australian poet in London and is a treasure trove for research.
Join Porter’s family and friends for a day celebrating his legacy in all its diversity, and for a glimpse of the richness the archive offers.
For full program details, visit nla.gov.au/event/a-poets-archive
Supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust
Friday 29 July, 9.30 am–5 pm
Theatre, $25 (includes collection viewing and light refreshments)
Book here or 02 6262 1111
National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra ACT 2600
Pauline Hanson and Sam Dastyari had some interesting exchanges on Q & A on Monday 18 July 2016.
Dastyari pointed out that Hanson has, in the past, expressed strident views against Aborigines, then against Asians, and more recently against Muslims. She wants to stop Muslims coming to Australia. She wanted to stop Asians coming to Australia. She could hardly have objected to Aborigines being in Australia, so she advocated instead for the abolition of special government assistance for them; the abolition of native title and the abolition of ATSIC.
One of the oddest exchanges between Hanson and Dastyari on Q & A went like this:
Dastyari: “When I look at Ms Hanson’s policy document that says we should be banning Muslims from coming to this country, I have to ask: does that mean that a five-year-old Sam Dastyari should never have been able to set foot in Australia, because somewhere in Tehran there’s a document that says beside my name the word ‘Muslim’, because of where I was born?”
Hanson: “Are you a Muslim?…Really?” … “You’re a practising Muslim? This is quite interesting,… I’m surprised. I did not know that about you.”
What is odd about this is that on 2 July, the night of the Federal election, when Hanson was being interviewed on Channel Seven, Dastyari offered to take her out for a Halal Snack Pack. That invitation, coupled with the widely known fact that Dastyari is originally from Iran, would lead any moderately intelligent person to conclude that Dastyari is Muslim. but Hanson seemed genuinely surprised on Monday night, in the exchange quoted above.
Perhaps her real point concerned whether he was a practising Muslim. But if that was her point she would have to refine her call for Muslims to be prevented from coming to Australia. But her comments on Muslims seem much broader than whether a Muslim is a practising Muslim. Here are some of her (false) claims about Muslims.
Here is the Guardian’s article about the Q & A episode: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/18/pauline-hanson-and-sam-dastyari-clash-over-islam-on-abcs-qa?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+AUS+v1+-+AUS+morning+mail+callout&utm_term=182252&subid=7875396&CMP=ema_632
It s hard to know what is more disturbing: the fact that someone with Hanson’s strident bigotry has a strong presence in the Senate or that someone with such luke-warm intelligence has a strong presence in the Senate.
Yes: the Eureka Stockade, 1854, was a terrorist event by our contemporary legal standards. The current definition of “terrorist act” is set out below. It’s complex, but the bottom line is this: if an ordinary criminal act of damage to property or person is carried out in order to intimidate the government or the public, it is a terrorist act. The Eureka Stockade involved fairly serious criminal conduct: 30 people were killed. and it was explicitly for political purposes: they wanted to force the Victorian government to allow miners (who paid high mining licence fees) to vote. Their sentiment was part of the idea expressed 81 years earlier in America: the Boston tea party of 1773 and then the American war of independence were clear expressions of the sentiment: no taxation without representation.
The leaders were charged with high treason, but they were acquitted. this was generally regarded as an expression of public sympathy for their cause. One of them, Peter Lalor went on to be Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Council (upper House) in 1880.
The diggers swore an oath on 30 November 1854: ‘We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties’
The Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (1995) defines”terrorist act” in section 100.1. You can see the full version here. Here is an abbreviated version:
“terrorist act means an action where:
(a) the action falls within subsection (2)…; and
(b) the action is done with the intention of:
(i) coercing, or influencing by intimidation, the government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or foreign country, or of part of a State, Territory or foreign country; or
(ii) intimidating the public or a section of the public.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it:
(a) causes serious harm that is physical harm to a person; or
(b) causes serious damage to property; or
(c) causes a person’s death; or …”
However it will not be a terrorist act if it falls within sub-section 3:
“(3) Action falls within this subsection if it:
(a) is advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action; and
(b) is not intended:
(i) to cause serious harm that is physical harm to a person; or
(ii) to cause a person’s death; or …”
It is a nice historical irony that another icon of Australian history is also bound up in terrorism. Ian Jones, the foremost authority on Ned Kelly, says Kelly’s activities in North-East Victoria had the ultimate objective of establishing a separate colony in that area. Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter adds credence to that suggestion. If his objective was a political one, then his murderous exploits fit him neatly into the modern legal definition of a terrorist.
Sonia Kruger went full Trump on morning television today.
A colleague of mine contacted Channel 9 and made a few points about her experience of Islam. Here are some of the points she made:
-As a refugee rights advocate, around half my friends came here by boat. Most of them are Muslim, or from a Muslim background.
-I have attended a Mosque, and worn a hijab by choice; I actually decided never to do it again because of the way I was treated in my local shopping centre when my head was covered because I was on my way to the Mosque. I did not feel safe, and I’m not a person who scares easily.
-Never have I been disrespected by any of my Islamic friends for not being of Islamic faith, or for engaging in practices considered ‘Haram’ ie forbidden and unholy. (Trust me, I am the worst. Nobody has ever said a word about this.)
-Never have I heard anything other than condemnation from them about terror attacks practised in the name of Islam.
-Every single time somebody is given a platform to condemn the Islamic faith on national television in Australia, it has an impact on my friends, because then Aussies think it’s a good idea to racially abuse women wearing hijabs on trains-in the street-in the shops, for some reason. This is a problem we as a friendship group have almost exclusively with the 9 network.
-I am perfectly safe in Parramatta and Blacktown, where a large proportion of the population is Muslim, but I had to quit my job in my (extremely Caucasian) hometown due to sexual harassment on the way to and from work from Aussies in utes – men who are visibly not from Islamic backgrounds. I wish I was joking. Sadly, I’m not. I also had to quit jogging with my daughter when she was in her pram for the same reason. Again, a huge proportion of the people (including men) I associate with, and spend time around, are of Islamic faith. Never once have I had even a moment where I felt unsafe around any of them.
So there you have it: most Muslims are polite and respectful. Many Aussies are not. A tiny percentage of Muslims are extremists: and a tiny percentage of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Bhuddists etc are extremists. It is extremists we should fear.
And hate-mongers like Sonya Kruger and Pauline Hanson.
Senator Pauline Hanson must be grateful to Senator Brandis. He declared that every one has the right to be a bigot.
Pauline Hanson is a bigot, and she revels in it. Her bigotry is accompanied by ignorance, which makes her public utterances ugly and dangerous, because bigotry is as contagious as the plague.
Pauline Hanson has made inflammatory statements about Islam: statements which were not only offensive but also plain wrong. Here is a brief summary of some of the things she has said about Islam FactCheckHanson
And here is a link to a detailed fact check.
It is easy to discount Pauline Hanson as a joke: but a lot of people are not laughing: they are lapping up all her anti-Islamic sentiments because they need an easy hate-target. We have seen the same phenomenon before. It is always ugly, and it always turns out badly.
And just in case you are wondering: I am not a Muslim; I do not adhere to any religious tradition. I think that some of the conspicuous Christians in our Parliament (Abbott, Morrison, Turnbull …) have grotesquely distorted ideas of Christian doctrine, and have betrayed the religion they profess to observe). Likewise, Muslim extremists debase the religion they claim to observe. I am opposed to all extremism, whether it is based on religious or political or other ideology.
I have had an interesting exchange of correspondence with someone I have never met. He has emailed me a number of times warning me about the dangers of Islam in Australia. Here are our last exchanges (for obvious reasons, I have removed any identifying details):
French PM Manual Valls has told the French people that they have to just live with Muslim terrorism.
Do you believe that Australians just have to live with Muslim terrorism?
What Muslim terrorism has there been in Australia?
Do you think the risk of Muslim terrorism is affected at all if Muslims are publicly vilified?
Very best wishes
To date around 200 Australians died at the hands of Muslim terrorists most of them overseas. However fortunately Australia as yet does not have the same level of Muslim population as France and other European countries caught up in World War III.
We must never let it get close to this level. The Muslims bred like rabbits as they live on welfare payments to get even more.
Religion is a life style choice. An attempt was made to indoctrinate me into the religion of my parents but I was not interested.
All Muslims living in Australia have a choice to make – they can repudiate the evil religion of Islam or get out of our great Country.
I do not see why this should be such a difficult choice for any reasonable human being to make.
Any person who supports the deliberate killing of babies in prams while the citizens of a country celebrate a day of freedom or the killing of teenagers at a concert or cartoonists who have the right to express their views are fully deserving of being vilified.
I did not reject one religion to adopt the religion of “political correctness“.
After Muslims attacked Australians in 1915 Billie Hughes established concentration camps and locked all Muslims up without trial as well as German and Turkish sympathisers. I have no problem with that because it worked. No more terrorist attacks during WW1.
So it comes to this: we will adopt intentional cruelty to innocent human beings (asylum seekers held in offshore detention) and we will actively discriminate against members of a particular religion (Islam) just in case we get Islamic extremists doing here what they do in Europe. Brilliant solution: we abandon our own principles just in case another group comes along and trashes our principles – we can do the job for them.
Now to some details about this brilliant idea. Should we expel all Muslims from Australia or just stop new ones from coming here?
And who do we include in the group to be excluded: ones who go to the mosque each day, or each week, or just sometimes, or never? Or do we do the German thing and check their heritage back through a few generations?
Is it possible that we could just target the extremists? Or would that deny us the fun of generalised discrimination?
I am sure Pauline Hanson would like your ideas; I don’t. I will go further: I think your ideas are grotesquely at odds with the Australia I grew up in, and they are probably dangerous. But Pauline Hanson has scratched up quite some popularity, so I am probably wrong, and the mob is probably right.
Very best wishes
His reply (how sad is this):
…Well here are my principles:
– Australians should determine who comes into our Country. Japan does not allow Muslim refugees into Japan so why should we?
– People who we invite to come to Australia must have a genuine commitment to support democracy and the liberty of others
– People who have no genuine desire to work but wish to exploit our social safety net are not welcome in Australia
– People who pay people smugglers to jump the queue of genuine refugees are deserving of no special treatment, especially when they are economic refugees and not genuinely in fear of their safety
– People who promote cruelty to animals are not welcome in Australia
– People who regard women as property and second class citizens are not welcome in Australia
– Freedom of Religion has its boundaries – hate preaching must be banned and any place hosting hate preachers must be closed down. By hate preaching I mean telling others to kill those who do not believe in the same religion.
– People who celebrate the killing of women and children are not welcome in Australia
– Religion is a lifestyle choice so do not complain if you are vilified for supporting an evil religion
– any politician who does not subscribe to the wisdom of Cicero Salus populi suprema lex esto is not worth voting for.
– any politician who puts “political correctness” such as hosting a Ramadan Dinner with Australia’s version of Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) before the security of those who vote for him is not worth voting for
– politicians should be prevented from taking the oath of office on the Qu’ran since this evil book requires that politician be committed to the killing of “kafirs” , non-Mulsims (Ed Husic was the first politician to take the oath of office on this evil book and he should be the last).
I’ve showed you my principles which I am not about to abandon – now you show me yours!
By the way Islam is not a “race” – it is an ideology more akin to Nazism that to what most people would consider a “religion“. World domination by violent means is what they have in common. I have no time for racially based laws and “native title” laws were the thin edge of the wedge for apartheid in Australia which will be confirmed if the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act is amended to give official recognition to “Invasion Day” and to entrench racially bases laws in Australia. You are born with a genetic heritage which you can do nothing about. However religion is a lifestyle choice.
As Pauline says we should be “One Nation” where your racial heritage has no place for special treatment. But race and political ideology are two separate things.
Donald Trump is all for stopping Muslim immigration into American after the Muslim President Mr Obama, who was raised in the Muslim Indonesia has opened the float gates.
I am not a lone voice. The days of the political elites who know what is best for the rest of us are numbered.
I have received several reports in the past few days which show just how bad things are getting in our ONSHORE detention facilities.
Some people – and that probably means most of the people who voted for LNP or ALP or One Nation on Saturday – don’t care, or prefer to turn a blind eye, or they’re just over it. Anything to avoid the pain or recognising that terrible things are being done in our name.
But the judgment of history will not be kind to those of us who prefer to ignore what our government is doing. It may be that the judgment of history will be so long delayed that today’s voters will have sunk into the grave, or dementia by the time it comes.
I only hope that the judgment of history will not be so long delayed for the real criminals: Abbott, Dutton, Morrison, Turnbull: The people who lied to the Australian public by calling boat people “illegal”, even though boat people commit no offence by coming here. The people who built on that lie by calling the whole exercise “border protection” and persuaded the public that locking up innocent children would, in some unidentified way, protect us from terrorism. The people who pretended to be devout Christians, but who willingly condemned innocent people to incarceration and torture and in some cases death.
So here’s the latest:
“SERCO and BorderForce are proud of their “New Operating Model- CONTROLLED MOVEMENT” which is causing great distress.
The physical conditions at the MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, 120 Camp Road Broadmeadows in Victoria) are deteriorating weekly under BorderForce to a standard which fails in its duty of care provision and fails in providing safety.
The men in Bass 1 and Bass 2 are crammed in rooms approximately 3 metres by 2 metres in bunk-beds. They have no outdoor recreation space, nowhere even to cry privately. Their communal space is one room, which is the dining room, kitchen, TV, pool table and English class. The result is chaos. Meals are brought in from a central kitchen to further limit contact between compounds. The men say the noise in the low-ceiling demountable rooms is unbearable. Frequent quarrels and fights erupt because of the close quarters in which they are confined. The Gym contains two or three walking machines or bike machines in a tiny room. In order for the men Bass 2 to get to the visits area, they must pass through five locked gates under escort and check at each gate. Similar for other compounds. There are now togged up guards of five full-time ERT (Emergency Response Teams) on each day – looking for trouble.
Even the SERCO boss (a former Prison commandant) admitted in a private meeting that such conditions would not be allowed in the prison system. The men have nothing to do all day except sleep and hope that they are called to visits where they may see former friends from other compounds and outsiders. The Volley ball court, soccer pitch and outdoor areas are now out of bounds beyond the fences except for short periods when SERCO elect to let them out.
We are witnessing the physical and psychological condition of all the people deteriorate under these high security, high surveillance conditions. Even the women are now double searched every time they leave the camp to go to hospital or CASA house appointments. First they are electronically scanned and then female guards hands squeeze up and down their arms and legs and body and take shoes off, before female detainees leave, and on their arriving back at the camp. Male guards film the body search. The male detainees are often handcuffed and have two guards holding their upper arms throughout their time out in public hospital outpatient waiting rooms. Many are now refusing to attend specialist medical appointments because, as one man said last week, “Where is my dignity?” Room searches are constant and unpredictable, early morning or late at night.”
Many reports of immigration detention onshore and offshore say that the conditions in detention and the treatment of detainees is far worse than in the prison system, including maximum security prisons. But people in immigration detention are not criminals; they have committed no offence: they are locked up indefinitely at the discretion of the government. And the Turnbull government, with the help of the Shorten Opposition, last year made it a criminal offence for workers in the detention system to speak about conditions in detention. I guess they would be embarrassed if the public at large knew what we are doing to people who are innocent of any offence.
The Guardian Australia today published the views of a panel on the effect of the election on various aspect of Australian life. I was asked to contribute a bit about refugees.
The whole Guardian article is here. My bit is set out below:
So far, the election result is too close to call with much confidence.
For refugees, it hardly matters which major party wins government, since both have struggled to keep their policies as close as possible. The Coalition policy calls the exercise “border protection”. Labor said it would “stand firm on maintaining a policy of offshore processing”, while claiming that it would be humane and compassionate to the innocent people it would lock up.
It looks as though the balance of power will not be held by the Greens, but by Pauline Hanson (whose attitude to refugees makes Nigel Farage look tolerant) and Nick Xenophon (who still needs to understand that calling boat people” illegal” is a lie).
Offshore processing and intentional cruelty seem likely to remain.
This means that no-one seeking protection who gets to Australia will be allowed to settle in Australia. They will be taken, by force and against their will, to PNG or Nauru. Their claim for asylum will be processed there (at Australia’s expense) but those found to be refugees will not be allowed to come to Australia. Where they would be resettled is anyone’s guess. How long they will be left on Manus or Nauru is anyone’s guess.
I expect a Liberal win by a narrow margin. For several months I have been predicting the Liberal party room is likely to replace Turnbull with Scott Morrison. Morrison’s track record for lying about boat people, and his strangely un-Christian attitude to them, means that the future for boat people (and this country) looks very bleak.
Four articles recently published in the Journal of Medical Ethics / British Medical Journal have characterised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention as involving or amounting to torture.
For those of us who have been involved in the area for some time, this does not come as a surprise: the frequency of self-harm, attempted suicide and successful suicide give a fair pointer to what is going on. And the Australian government makes it very difficult for ordinary Australians to find out what is going on in these places. In fact, the Australian government has made it a criminal offence for anyone who works in the detention system to disclose anything they learn in that capacity.
But some health workers in the offshore detention system have remained true to their ethical obligations: they are exposing the facts, even at the risk of prosecution. [That risk is very low: the government knows tht, if it prosecutes any health worker in the detention system for disclosing the truth about what is going on, that person will get the best pro bono defence this country has ever seen, and their defence will involve getting into the witness box and describing in detail the sort of horrors these articles disclose. See my analysis of how a defence would work]
Here are the four articles. We should be grateful that the authors had the courage and decency to publish the facts we all should know:
Is Australia engaged in torturing asylum seekers? A cautionary tale for Europe by J-P Sanggaran and D Zion
Torture, healthcare and Australian immigration detention by Ryan Essex
The clinician and detention by Howard Goldenberg
Are healthcare professionals working in Australia’s immigration detention centres condoning torture? by David Isaacs
There is an interesting discussion on the ABC about the correct way to pronounce the name of “H”, the 8th letter of the English alphabet. It is a long-running debate. I recall that, as a child, I was told firmly that I should say ” aitch” not “haitch”. The debate is much older than I am.
“I am told on good authority that in schools of a certain denomination, and in those schools only, it is pronounced invariably as haitch, an oddity I cannot explain” (Arnold Wall The Queen’s English, 1958). Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the pronunciation aitch is hard to explain. The pronunciation of the letter H is one of Australia’s great social shibboleths: not just the way it is sounded as the first letter of a word, but more particularly the way the name of the letter itself is said. Some people say haitch, others call it aitch.
Although the spirit of our times is generous, forgiving and tolerant, the choice between aitch and haitch can cause a good deal of anxiety and even hostility. Generally speaking, haitch is used by those educated in that part of the Roman Catholic system which traces its origins to Ireland. Aitch is preferred by the rest. Some apostates deny their origins by abandoning haitch; but there is little traffic in the other direction. When I was a child, I was forbidden to say haitch; friends who said haitch were appalled that I ate meat on Fridays.
It is not at all surprising the issue is so confused, since the pronunciation of h, when used as the initial letter of a word, has changed significantly over the past couple of millenia.
Although nothing much is certain in matters of language these days, the prevailing view, perhaps illigocally, supports the pronunciation aitch. The Oxford English Dictionary gives it thus, and does not recognise haitch as an alternative. I say this is illogical, because it might be expected that the name of a letter of the alphabet would give a clue about the sound normally associated with it. In this matter, h, w and y stand isolated from the rest of the alphabet, although the names of c, e and g represent only the lesser part of the work done by those letters.
The issue is manifested in at least 3 ways: how is the name of the letter to be said; is the h sounded or not before a vowel; does a word beginning with h accept a or an as the indefinite article?
The sound represented by H was known in the Semitic, Greek and Latin alphabets. In the Semitic it was a laryngeal or guttural aspirate, and remained so in the Greek and Latin. It passed from the Latin into the Germanic languages as a simple aspirate, that is, the sounded breath. It has been variously called ha, ahha, ache, acca, and accha. These earlier forms of the name explain the current form, and are clearly referrable to the sound represented.
In late Latin, and in early Italian and French, the aspirate gradually ceased to be sounded. In Italian, the h was progressively dropped in the written form of words, so that it is now absent from words which, in the French, retain it without sounding it: eretico (hérétique); istorio (histoire); oribile (horrible); osteria (hôtel).
In Anglo-Saxon speech, h was always sounded, but since the Norman conquest, the English pronunciation of words with an initial h gradually adopted the French manner: the english language has always been something of a trollop, pursuing advantage where it can. So for hundreds of years, the h was seen but not heard in “proper” speech, at least in words which derive from the romance languages.
If the initial h of a noun or adjective is not sounded, then the word naturally takes the indefinite article an. At least from the 11th century then, it was natural to refer to an (h)istory, an (h)otel, an (h)our, an (h)onourable woman, an (h)umble person. The ambivalence of usage survives in words like hostler/ostler.
However, from the 18th century on, English usage began once more to aspirate the initial h. This coincides with the arrival of the Hanoverian monarchs, whose native language had always sounded the h. Thus words which had come into English via French began to be said with aspirated h’s, although the change was gradual and patchy. Published in 1828, Walker’s Dictionary says that h is always sounded except in heir, heiress, honest, honesty, honour, honourable, herb, herbage, hospital, hostler, hour, humble, humour, humorous, & humorsome. Since that time, those underlined have also changed, but in the USA herb is still said with a silent h. Abominable was originally abhominable at least from Wyclif’s time, and was explained as deriving from ab homine. It lost its h in pronunciation and then in spelling, and remained unaffected by shift in the wake of the Hanoverian kings.
One of the oddest anomalies of this process is habitué, which is an unassimilated French word but which is generally spoken with a sounded h. By contrast, an (h)abitual liar is commonly said with a silent h, although it would be odd not to sound the h in habit. Homage is likewise anomalous
As the shift back to aspirating the h was slow and illogical, it is not surprising that it provoked uncertainty in the choice of indefinite article. The choice is made the more difficult by a dread of dropping an aitch, which in many circles is a shocking thing if done incorrectly. The unhappy result is such usages as: an hotel, an historic occasion, an hypothesis, an heroic effort, an hysterical outburst, &c. If the h is sounded, the result is silly and indefensible.
The rule is simple enough: a word which begins with a vowel sound takes an; a word which begins with a consonant sound takes a. So, an honest person, an hour, an heir, an unusual event &c.; a hypothetical case, a historic occasion (but colloquially an ‘istoric occasion), a useful suggestion, &c. Before initials, the choice of article depends on the way the name of the letter is sounded: a UN resolution; an S-bend, an HB pencil, an X-rated film, an MP. But if the collection of letters is a recognized acronym, then the choice of article depends on how the acronym is said: a UNICEF official, an UNCITRAL official; a NATO resolution, a SALT meeting, a HoJo restaurant.
Since the publication of my article about the word fuck, I have received many comments, mostly complimentary. That article attracted far more comment than any other I have written, which shows where the market is! Readers will remember that I identified subagitate as the only polite word in the English language which has as its primary meaning have sexual intercourse.
However, correction comes from the least expected quarter: Robin Brett QC drew to my attention to the OED entry for swive, which reads as follows:
“swive, v. Obs. or arch.
- trans. To have sexual connexion with, copulate with (a female). …
- intr. To copulate…”
I had always believed, without checking it, that swive was a slang word. In fact it is a sturdy Old English word, related to the Old High German sweib (meaning sweep or swing). But for the fact that (apparently) its primary meaning is not gender neutral, it deserves to be ranked alongside subagitate.
Chaucer used it in The Miller’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale and also in The Manciple’s Tale:
For all your watching, bleared is your bright eye
By one of small repute, as well is known,
Not worth, when I compare it with your own,
The value of a gnat, as I may thrive.
For on your bed your wife I saw him swive.”
Chaucer’s use of the word may not be enough to ensure its respectability. Later in The Manciple’s Tale, the episode above is referred to again:
Masters, by this example, I do pray
You will beware and heed what I shall say:
Never tell any man, through all your life,
How that another man has humped his wife;
He’ll hate you mortally, and that’s certain.
On balance, it may still be advisable to prefer subagitate in genteel company, where clarity of meaning is traditionally subordinated to elegance. But swive is justifiable on historical grounds, and hump will not cause too many problems, as long as you sound the h.
Here is another account of misbehaviour by Myki Authorised Officers, sent to me yesterday. The Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, says the culture will change: it needs to change really soon. Calling it misbehaviour understates its significance: if the account is accurate, the Authorised Officers clearly do not understand the law about allowing the passenger a reasonable time to produce his ID, and one of them committed a criminal assault on the passenger’s wife.
The person who contacted me has given me permission to quote her account of what happened. I have edited the email so as not to reveal the identity of the people involved:
My husband left his wallet at home when he took the car to be serviced near his work. He took a tram home to pick up our daughter from childcare before 6pm, as the car was being serviced, and completely forgot to get a ticket. He was approached by Authorised Officers, who told him he must provide ID and that he could pay an on-the-spot fine or a higher fine at a later time. He said he didn’t have his wallet and then told them to wait while he called me.
He spoke to me at 5.40pm for 4 minutes. He said that he was near childcare but was stuck as he didn’t have a tram ticket or ID. He said that he couldn’t pick up our daughter before 6pm.
I said that I could walk there, picking up our daughter on the way before child care closed at 6pm, and would bring his wallet to him. While we were making this plan I could hear someone yelling at him in the background. He stopped the discussion with me a number of times and repeatedly asked them to please wait for a moment while he organised for his child to be picked up and for his wallet for ID and payment method. They refused to stop and were talking over him.
During the phone call with me he asked the Authorised Officers how long he was allowed by law to provide the ID and payment, as I was coming straight away. We live 4 blocks away from where he was. The officers said that it had to be a reasonable time, and he was not being reasonable.
Our phone conversation ended at 5.44pm. My husband asked the Authorised Officers to wait while I brought his wallet, but they ignored him and began to write a report. And they called the police. My husband explained that I was picking up the child on the way, as her childcare closed at 6pm. The female Yarra Trams officer said that it was an inconvenience.
By the time I arrived at 6pm the police had arrived and the Authorised Officers were speaking with the police officers. I approached the police officer and said that I had brought his walled ID and payment method. The police officer drove away.
My husband said that he now had his wallet, so he had ID and payment method. He said he was happy to pay the on-the-spot fine. The Auyhorised Officers said it was too late as they had completed paperwork.
My husband and I were both recording the Authorised Officers, but they told us to stop recording the discussion. I was then physically pushed repeatedly by one of the Authorised Officers.
Paul Stevenson has been sacked for speaking about conditions in offshore detention. Among other things, he said conditions in the camps were “demoralising … and desperate. … It’s indeterminate, it’s under terrible, terrible conditions, and there is nothing you can say about it that says there’s some positive humanity in this. And that’s why it’s such an atrocity.” Now he has been told his contract has been summarily cancelled. Sacking him was probably a breach of contract, but it is important to notice that he was sacked by his employer PsyCare. It’s fair to assume that Border Force told his employer to sack him: they are too gutless to take direct action against him under the Border Force legislation, for fear of the consequences.
On 20 May 2015, the Australian Parliament passed the Australian Border Force Act. The Act came into force until 1 July 2015.
It includes secrecy provisions which have potentially very far-reaching consequences, but it is to be hoped that these provisions will be read down. What is really alarming about the Australian Border Force Act is that it shows the willingness of the government to suppress the facts connected with its brutal mistreatment of asylum seekers. I think the attempt will fail, but it should not have been made in the first place. It is of a piece with Tony Abbott’s response to Q & A allowing a question from Zaky Mallah to go to air: instead of regretting an error of judgment, he asked “Whose side is ABC on?”. Abbott appears to think that the best way to deal with the world is to ignore facts which contradict your view of it.
Section 42 of the Australian Border Force Act makes it an offence (punishable by 2 years’ imprisonment) for an “entrusted person” to “make a record of, or disclose” protected information.
“Entrusted person” is widely defined, to include various officials in the Border Force, as well as officers of the Migration Department. This includes people who are “Immigration and Border Protection workers”. That class is defined as including people who have been designated by the Minister, as a class, to be officers. On 27 November 2003 the then Minister designated in writing employees of various service providers to be officers.
Accordingly, an employee of a detention centre service provider is, by definition, within the definition of “officer” in subsection 5(1) of the Migration Act 1958 and is therefore within the definition of “entrusted person” in the Border Force Act.
The restriction in section 42 is modified by a series of exceptions in sections 43 to 49. Most of those exceptions are not presently relevant. However the exceptions include these:
- disclosure to an authorised person for a purpose relating to the protection of public health, or the prevention or elimination of risks to the life or safety of an individual or a group of individuals; (s. 44 & s. 45 in conjunction with s. 46(d))
- disclosure to an authorised person for the provision of services to persons who are not Australian citizens; (s. 44 & s. 45 in conjunction with s. 46(j))
- section 48 has arguably the most important exception:
“48 Disclosure to reduce threat to life or health
An entrusted person may disclose protected information if:
(a) the entrusted person reasonably believes that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to the life or health of an individual; and
(b) the disclosure is for the purposes of preventing or lessening that threat.”
In my opinion, if a health worker learned facts while employed by a service provider in detention and genuinely believed, on reasonable grounds, that those facts represented a serious threat to the life or health of one or more asylum seekers, and, that disclosing those facts might help prevent or lessen that threat, the disclosure would not constitute an offence.
So far as I am aware, no one has been prosecuted under section 42, although there have been some high profile disclosures which on their face appear to breach section 42, although they would have a good section 48 defence.
Similarly, if any other employee of a detention centre operator formed the same belief, and disclosed the facts believing that disclosing them might help prevent or lessen that threat, the disclosure would not constitute an offence.
It is not clear from the Act whether disclosure is prohibited of facts learned before the Act came into force but disclosed after the Act comes into force. The normal principle against retrospective criminal laws tends to the result that the Act would not apply in those circumstances, but it is not clear.
Two practical matters remain.
First, the Act came into force on 1 July. Disclosure before then cannot be a breach of the Act.
Second, whether a prosecution would be brought in any particular case is hard to guess. If the disclosure was such as to attract a possible defence under section 48, a government acting sensibly would recognise that a prosecution would provide an opportunity for the accused to explain – in the very public forum of court proceedings – exactly what is going on inside detention centres and why those things present a serious threat to the life or health of an individual (or individuals) in detention.
The defence under section 48 is important. It is arguably more powerful than normal whistle-blower defences. The most disturbing thing about the Australian Border Force Act is its apparent attempt to hide the iniquities which are happening in immigration detention, on-shore and off-shore.
I have said it before, and I repeat it here: if anyone is prosecuted under section 42 after disclosing things about the detention system which, they genuinely believe, involve a serious risk to the life or health of a person, I will arrange the best pro bono defence ever seen in this country.
Shameful things are being done in our name, on out taxes and Australia’s reputation internationally is being degraded rapidly. The only favourable thing which has been said about Australia’s policy in relation to asylum seekers was said by Katie Hopkins in the London Sun a few months ago. Her compliment was diminished by the fact that she referred to boat people as “vermin” and “cockroaches”. I would prefer Australia not to have the good opinion of someone who thinks like that.
Befriend a Child in Detention, a project established by writer and educator, Dr June Factor, calls on political candidates to bring to Australia from Nauru the more than 100 children still living there in dire, detention-like conditions, and to process the claims of the 317 children in Australia living in community detention limbo.
‘Our project’s purpose is simple,’ said Dr Factor. ‘We send books and letters of friendship to children seeking asylum. We want the children and their families to know they are not forgotten.’
See more here: befriend