A snapshot of Australian politics 5th June 2015: Jail for reporting abuse in detention centres, free ride in climate change, loss of citizenship without recourse to law, no ethics lessons in schools, no tax disclosure for billionaires!
June 5th, 2015 by Klaus Rohde
Some quotes from the Sydney Morning Herald 5th June 2015, which provide an interesting insight into the political situation in Australia run by the right-wing Liberal/National government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
1) Australia has chosen an extreme hardline policy on refugees arriving by boat from various Southeast and South Asian countries, mainly Indonesia, turning boats back and imprisoning those refugees who made it to Australia in detention centres on Manaus Island, Papua New Guinea, and the “independent” Pacific Island nation of Nauru. It has now introduced a law that would make it a criminal offense to report abuse in these centres (reports of such abuse including sexual crimes had made it into the press in the past):
“Doctors and teachers working in immigration detention facilities could face up to two years in prison if they speak out against conditions in the centres or provide information to journalists, under sweeping new laws to gag whistleblowers.
The Border Force Act, which was passed quietly on May 14 by both major parties, clamps down on “entrusted people” in detention centres recording or disclosing information about conditions in centres such as those on Nauru and Manus Island.
Under the heading of “secrecy and disclosure provisions”, the act says releasing information is only permitted by the secretary of the department responsible for detention centres.”
“In a media release last month, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the new law would “further strengthen the government’s ability to protect Australia’s border.”
According to Dr. Richard Kidd, one of the founders of the Doctors for Refugees, “the new law was taking away all transparency and accountability”, and “it is absolutely clear that doctors and nurses are expected as part of their registration to put the best interests of their patients first and that includes advocating for [people] being denied appropriate health services or being abuse in some way” .
2) Soon after taking over government, Tony Abbott abolished the carbon tax, reduced the renewable energy target, tried hard but ultimately failed to exclude discussion of climate change politics at the G20 meeting in Brisbane, etc.
“Australia has become a climate change “free-rider”, dropping off the list of nations taking “credible” action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to a panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.”
3) The government wants to introduce a law (supported by the Labor party) to deprive “terrorists” with (potential) dual citizenship of their Australian citizenship without recourse to the law. Potential dual citizens include those who do not actually possess but qualify to obtain a second one.
“Potentially hundreds of Australians could be stripped of their citizenship and then deported, without recourse to the courts as to the merits of their defence, once the Australian Parliament passes tough new counter-terrorism laws with the support of the opposition.”
4) The Liberal/National government in the largest Australian state, NSW, is attempting to weaken access to non-religious ethics classes for those who do not wish to take religion lessons, an option introduced by the previous Labor government:
5) The previous Labor government had introduced a law which obliged rich companies to disclose their income. The present Liberal/National government, in draft laws just released, made 700 private (but not public) companies exempt from that disclosure, because public knowledge might expose them to potential losses in commercial negotiations.
“James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings is among about 700 private companies that are excluded from having their tax details published by the Tax Office under draft laws released by the Abbott government.”
“Public companies with more than $100 million turnover will still be required to report taxable income, total income and tax paid. “
“Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said Labor’s rules would have allowed for an “open and informed public discussion” about how much tax Australia’s biggest companies pay.”