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Brisbane Free University

https://www.facebook.com/events/436179873212383/

Next year in Jerusalem …

Wicked Pickets and Anti-War actions

BushTelegraph:

Paradigm Shift [community radio 4zzz fm 102.1 fridays at noon] covers two important issues: sexist advertising and the ongoing war in Iraq.

Listen to Paradigm Shift on demand at http://ondemand.4zzzfm.org.au/paradigm-shift

Originally posted on PShift:

[PShift broadcast 4ZZZ fm 102.1 on 17 April 2015 with Nicole and Andy.Wicked Pickets and about war. The show covers issues taken up around Australia and the world by the activist community.] Listen to paradigm Shift on demand at http://ondemand.4zzzfm.org.au/paradigm-shift

Episode Notes

Wicked Pickets

Wicked Pickets
Brisbane based community action group trying to get sexist and abusive advertising removed from camper vans.

Legal action taken against Wicked Campervans slogan – ‘inside every princess is a little slut who wants to try it just once’.

John Webb who is the owner of Wicked Campervans promised to take down advertising that is part of ‘rape culture’. He failed to keep his word … so Wicked Pickets decided to take up the fight against abusive advertising.

Wicked Campers is an Australian camper van rental company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The company also has outlets in other parts of Australia…

View original 377 more words

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Maori to rally against remote Indigenous community closures

Maori-led protests against the closure of Aboriginal communities will be held ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to New Zealand next week. http://nirs.org.au/_content_data/_audio/Te-Ururoa-Flavell—Maori-Support.wav.mp3 Mr Abbott will visit Wellington on Monday for an Australian dedication at the National War Memorial … Continue reading

Malcolm Fraser’s refugee policy: no model for today

[PN: As the Australian government charters a plane to move refugees from Nauru to Cambodia, this article by Hal Hewson is re-printed with permission from the Solidarity website .(click image to go to website).
Published (on 9 August 2012) before Fraser’s recent death, the article challenges the mythology surrounding Australian governments’ prior attitudes to refugees. It poses the question of how do we have a more humane policy toward refugees. Ian Curr, April 2015]

 Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s policy of processing the wave of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s has drawn much praise recently, but it is nothing to aspire to, explains Hal Hewson Refugee rights advocates have countered Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott’s attempts to justify offshore processing by championing a genuine “regional solution”. This would be based on Australia processing and resettling larger numbers of refugees directly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Giving people a real hope of resettlement, instead of forcing them to get on a boat to get here, could reduce the need for dangerous boat journeys. But there is confusion as to what a “regional solution” should look like and how it can be achieved.

Some refugee supporters, the Centre for Policy Development’s John Menadue in particular, see the solution developed by the Fraser government to deal with the Vietnamese refugee crisis of the late 1970s as a model.

Greens’ refugee spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young stated recently that, “By increasing the number of refugees Australia accepts and working with the United Nations and our neighbouring countries, we can prevent asylum seekers from feeling so desperate they risk boarding a boat. Experts know this works because it’s what Australia and other nations did after the Vietnam war.”

Fraser’s era is often held up as a time when both political parties were able to put political games aside and uphold humanitarian principles. Academic Robert Manne declared the Fraser years as “the halcyon era of Australian refugee policy”

This is a part of the widespread misconception that under Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal government of 1975 to 1983, Australia had a humane refugee policy. But a closer examination of Fraser’s version of a “regional solution” shows that, like today, his government was focused on “stopping the boats”.

Under Fraser the annual intake of refugees reached 22,500 in one year—almost double the paltry 13,750 of today.

Yet it was the Fraser government began the false divide between the “unauthorised” arrivals of asylum seekers by boat and “legitimate” refugees in overseas camps. This fact is often obscured when people recall this era; for example high profile lawyer and refugee supporter Julian Burnside recently claimed that Malcolm Fraser had resettled 25,000 “boat people” a year. It was soon pointed out that almost all of these people were in fact selected from camps. Asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat were still the target of hysteria and discrimination.

The end of the Vietnam War with the fall of Saigon in April 1975 triggered a wave of refugees, with over one million people fleeing the country in the following years. Australia became a country of first refuge in 1976 as small numbers of refugees from Vietnam arrived by boat. They did not face detention, but were initially just referred to charities for assistance while their claims were assessed. Later boat arrivals were housed in migrant hostels.

A total of 53 refugee boats had arrived in Australia by 1981. But they brought a total of only around 2100 people.

Most of the Vietnamese refugees remained in camps in Malaysia and Thailand. Prior to 1978, the government refused to accept more than a few thousand refugees a year from the camps. Their distance allowed the state to control exactly who would arrive, allowing them to keep the number of people to a minimum. They could do this and still maintain they were honouring international treaties, although they were increasingly criticised internationally for not taking their share.

Crisis and solution

In 1978 the number of refugees arriving in Australia on boats began to shoot up, along with the blood pressure of many politicians in Canberra. About 1400 arrived by boat between July 1977 and June 1978.

That same year five large freighters carrying refugees from Vietnam arrived in Southeast Asia. Each one carried around 1500 asylum seekers, sending local governments into a fury. Many of them were Chinese-Vietnamese, who had left Vietnam in response to government actions prior to China’s war with Vietnam in 1979.

Fraser’s then immigration minister, Michael MacKellar, flatly refused to recognise the passengers as refugees, worrying that such boats were capable of bringing large numbers of “unauthorised” refugees to Australia.

This was despite the provisions in the Refugee Convention and despite a direct appeal from the UNHCR and the US. In January 1979 the Australian government announced that it “would deny entry to any passengers on such ships”. It declared its intention to “legislate to introduce severe penalties for those who profiteered by bringing people into Australia without prior authority”.

Some of the political rhetoric used at the time is very similar to today’s hysteria against people smugglers. Organisers of these vessels were termed “entrepreneurs of evil” and these large-scale refugee operations were said to be, “organised by unscrupulous traders in human suffering and misery”. They were in fact organised by the government of Vietnam, which was keen to be rid of certain people seen as hostile to the new Communist government. For a price, people who didn’t like the new regime were helped to leave.

The Australian government’s solution was to create “regional boat holding arrangements” with Malaysia and Indonesia. In return for Australia taking larger numbers of refugees from the camps, Malaysia and Indonesia would prevent boats leaving for Australia.

But the numbers Australia was willing to resettle were still meagre: only 9000 a year, while an estimated 373,000 were languishing in Southeast Asian camps. And as noted by historian Nancy Viviani, Australia would, “choose refugees who best fitted migration rather than humanitarian entry criteria”, hand picking who they would accept.

Preventing boat departures was a key plank of the comprehensive “regional solution” implemented following an international conference in July 1979, which secured pledges to resettle refugees from countries including the US, UK, France and Canada. Indonesia and the Philippines agreed to establish regional processing centres and the Australian government lifted its annual resettlement quota for Indochinese refugees to 14,000 between 1978 and 1982.

But alongside this was Fraser’s determination to “stop the boats”. The government even sent immigration officials to sabotage the boats bringing asylum seekers so they could not undertake a voyage to Australia.

In the documentary Admission Impossible Greg Humphries, an Immigration Department official, recounts how he was sent to Malaysia for this purpose and gives an account of their methods: “We bored holes in the bottom of the ships, of the boats, and they sank overnight, so they had to be landed. And we were very successful in stopping many of the boats, by one way or another.”

‘Queue jumping’

Fraser spoke of the country as having a front and back door. Refugees who waited in camps were coming in the front door, while the boat arrivals were coming through the back. His view was that the “solution to people coming in the back door was to open the front door wider”. In other words those arriving by boat were “bad” refugees and a problem that needed to be dealt with.

This position marked a continuity with the Immigration Department’s early objections to the Refugee Convention. When Australia signed the Convention in 1954, the department immediately voiced concerns. Of particular concern was Article 31, which stated that refugees should not be punished or discriminated against based on their mode of arrival in a country—for instance by boat, without prior approval through the normal immigration processes. This section of the Convention recognises that asylum seekers cannot always abide by the usual immigration rules when fleeing desperate and dangerous situations.

In Australian politics, much is made of asylum seekers arriving by boat with no passports. But to obtain a passport, people have to write an application to the government and wait for a reply. This would be suicide for someone facing serious state repression. The only option many people have is to try and travel on a fake passport, which in most countries is a serious offence. It is little wonder then that asylum seekers throw away fake documents before being intercepted by Australian customs officials. It is exactly this type of scenario that the Refugee Convention was designed to address.

Nevertheless, the Department of Immigration was not impressed. One immigration official was frank: “It is rather ridiculous to ask any state to subscribe to a convention which would deter it from imposing a penalty on an undesirable refugee who deliberately flouted its immigration law. To my mind it would be a definite step towards abandoning effective control over immigration.”

And the Immigration Department Secretary Tasman Heyes believed the idea that they, “should not be discriminated against and should not be subjected to any penalty for illegal entry would be a direct negation of the immigration policy followed by all Australian Governments since Federation.”

Perpetuating this position would see the government sink to new lows in its depictions and attitudes towards asylum seekers arriving by boat. Discriminating between “good” and “bad” refugees led straight to the creation of one of the label: queue jumpers.

The term queue jumpers entered the Australian dialogue in official government broadcasts. In response to an increase in boat arrivals in April to May 1978, the government made announcements through Radio Australia to Southeast Asia warning against “queue jumping”, according to research by Jack Smit.

This approach spurred the government to pass the Immigration (Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill of 1980. This introduced penalties for people smuggling aimed at boat organisers and crew of ten years imprisonment and/or a fine of $100,000. This is the real bipartisanship of the Fraser era—bipartisan support for legislation to keep boat people out. The laws were used to carry out the deportation of 140 people who arrived on board the boat VT838 that arrived via Malaysia in late 1981.

The real history of Fraser era shows how refugee “solution” based on “stopping the boats” means capitulating to the racist xenophobia against refugees and the myth that refugees arriving by boat are doing the wrong thing. Despite his opposition to the anti-refugee policies of today, Fraser’s government did not challenge this racism: it perpetuated it. The lesson is that a genuine welcome refugees policy will not come through appealing to a “progressive” section of the ruling class. It will come with a movement from below that challenges the anti-refugee racism from above.

Hal Hewson

http://www.solidarity.net.au/refugees/malcolm-frasers-refugee-policy-no-model-for-today/

Snap Action – Against Adani’s Carmichael Mine

Mines mean closure

April 23April 27

Meeting at 8.30 for a 9.00am start at the

Land and Environment Court, 363 George Street, Brisbane

Since March 31 Coast and Country Inc, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office Qld have been in the Land and Environment Court, objecting to Adani’s proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin.

In what is an epic 5 week long hearing, 11 experts will be called to give testimony about the proposed mines impact on climate change, groundwater and the economy.

We are eagerly awaiting the date for when the climate change expert evidence will be presented. In a tactic to keep us guessing the date has been shifted multiple times. As we are now seeing that this date is continually changing, keep an eye on this event page and we will keep you updated throughout the week.

On the day that the climate change evidence is being heard, we will be outside the court, standing united against the proposed mine and the impact it would have on the global climate.

Be ready to go quickly, it is likely we will have short notice to get there!

The silent vigil will be visual, with black balloons representing the amount of Carbon this mine will burn through. The message will be clear – No New Coal Mines.

We are asking that anyone keen to come wears professional clothing, and preferably in black.

Meeting at 8.30 for a 9.00am start at the Land and Environment Court, 363 George Street, BrisbaneSince March 31 Coast and Country Inc, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office Qld have been in the Land and Environment Court, objecting to Adani’s proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin.

In what is an epic 5 week long hearing, 11 experts will be called to give testimony about the proposed mines impact on climate change, groundwater and the economy.

We are eagerly awaiting the date for when the climate change expert evidence will be presented. In a tactic to keep us guessing the date has been shifted multiple times. As we are now seeing that this date is continually changing, keep an eye on this event page and we will keep you updated throughout the week.

On the day that the climate change evidence is being heard, we will be outside the court, standing united against the proposed mine and the impact it would have on the global climate.

Be ready to go quickly, it is likely we will have short notice to get there!

The silent vigil will be visual, with black balloons representing the amount of Carbon this mine will burn through. The message will be clear – No New Coal Mines.

We are asking that anyone keen to come wears professional clothing, and preferably in black.

Meeting at 8.30 for a 9.00am start at the Land and Environment Court, 363 George Street, Brisbaneabbott point

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Don’t Expect Middle East Peace to be a (U.S.) Presidential Campaign Issue

[PN: To get a sense of where the US elections are at, the article below are the views of a Chicago based Palestinian journalist and comedian, Ray Hanania, about how little American politics will focus on the needs and aspirations … Continue reading

Detention centre guards suspended over social media posts

Eight members of the ‘emergency response team’ at Nauru stood down

Guards also posed for picture with controversial MP Pauline Hanson

Employees of Wilson Security’s Nauru emergency response team and others at the Reclaim Australia rally in Brisbane on April 4. From left: Dan Connors, Cody Allen, Alan Hartley, Beau James, former federal MP Pauline Hanson (centre), Motley, Simon Scott (in light green shirt not a Wilson employee), Jamie Scannell, Harley Levanic, (other male in navy blue shirt not a Wilson employee).

Eight guards from Nauru detention centre have been suspended over a possible breach of their employer’s social media guidelines.

The members of the “emergency response team” at Nauru, who were hired on the basis of their cultural “sensitivity”, have been stood down pending an investigation into their social media use.

Some promoted the Reclaim Australia movement and some posted anti-Islam slurs online.

The Nauru guards also posed with Pauline Hanson, the controversial former federal MP and One Nation founder who has long called for immigration restrictions, after she spoke at the rally in Brisbane on 4 April.

A former employee for Transfield subcontractor Wilson Security told Guardian Australia the guards’ online posts provided a glimpse of the mindset of ex-defence force personnel who “frequently referred to asylum seekers in their care as ‘the enemy’ ”.

This included Facebook posts of material comparing Islam to Nazism, accusing companies from Cadbury to Krispy Kreme of supporting terrorism by having products certified as Halal, and the embrace of the slogan “infidels” through T-shirts and tattoos.

A spokesman for the detention centre operator Transfield Services, which employed the men, said the matters were “very concerning and not at all what we expect of our staff”.

It follows Transfield’s suspension on Monday of another guard at the Manus Island detention centre who posted links to Reclaim Australia and the boycott halal movements on Facebook.

The rally was one of a string of nationwide events protesting the influence of Islam in Australia, conflating the religion with violent extremism and provoking counter protests by self-described anti-racist groups.

One of the guards, Simon Scott, posted the group photo with Hanson on his Facebook page with the comment: “What more can I say.”

Another guard, Graham Motley, a veteran of a Royal Australian Regiment task force that mentored soldiers in Afghanistan, commented under the post: “Royal Australian Infidels”.

Two others in the photo, Beau James and Dann Connors, sport T-shirts bearing the word “infidel”.

Another guard, Harley Levanic, revealed on Facebook his new neck tattoo bearing the same word. James commented on the picture: “Welcome to the gang… Well done old son. Looks awesome.”

A day before the rally, James, tagged a post likening Muslims to Germans who enabled the rise of Nazis through inaction, with the comment: “See yas tomoz boys!!! Bring your pitch forks.”

Another guard, Simon Scott, posts on the same day: “Let me know when we are meeting in the city. I need someone to help me with a bag of ammonium nitrate.”

Last week, Connors posted about a visit to the Lindt cafe in Sydney where a siege in December 2014 ended in the deaths of self-proclaimed jihadist Man Haron Monis and two hostages. Scott responded: “Did you smell dead joondie in there?” “Joondie”, derived from the Arabic word for soldier, is a slang term used by Australian defence personnel to refer to the Taliban.

Last month Scott endorsed a boycott on Halal products, saying: “Don’t be UnAustralian and buy these products. Let the filthy sub human genetic Islamic filth have it.”

Seven of the eight men suspended – Levanic, James, Connors, Scott, Graham Motley, Cody Allen, and Alan Hartley – are understood to be former military personnel.

Motley served in Afghanistan as part of a mentoring task force led by the 8/9th battalion, Royal Australian Regiment from Brisbane. He told the Toowoomba chronicle in 2012 that the work had given him a better understanding of Afghanistan culture.

The eighth is Jamie Scannell, whose comment on the Hanson photo was: “Pauline Hanson’s Protection Team. Great photo boys.”

The team is trained in riot control but also called in to deal with “incidents” in the Nauru centre, from self harm to disputes between asylum seekers.

Many of the asylum seekers on Nauru are Muslims from the Middle East and parts of Asia.

In a job advertisement last year for “offshore security specialists” including emergency response officers, Wilson Security said that “successful applicants will … be culturally sensitive” while those “with (foreign) language skills are highly regarded”.

A spokesman for Transfield Services told Guardian Australia that all eight men were stood down while the company investigates whether they were in violation of a new social media policy.

“These matters are very concerning and not at all what we expect of our staff,” the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it expected “service provider staff to act appropriately and with integrity in all their dealings with the people in their care”.

“Inappropriate use of social media channels will not be tolerated, particularly if it involves offensive material,” she said.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/apr/14/detention-centre-guards-suspended-over-photo-with-pauline-hanson-at-rally?CMP=soc_567

Fireside Conversation – COMMUNITY CLOSURE: LIFESTYLE CHOICE OR LIVING CULTURE

Natural Amphitheatre, University of Queensland, St Lucia (Opposite Wordsmiths)

Panellists include: Sam Cook and Paul Spearim

Fire, Music by Condy Canuto, and Food

Supported by the NTEU, UQU and Goorie Berrimpa

Staff and students at the University of Queensland will hear from a panel of Aboriginal experts about the forced closures of Aboriginal communities at an event being organised by the National Tertiary Education Union and the UQ Student Union on Thursday, April 23.

The “Fireside Conversation #1″ will be an opportunity to increase understanding about this controversial topic that has generated widespread protest across Australia, and captured significant media attention. The panellists, including Sam Cook, Paul Spearim and Mary Graham, have deep and extensive knowledge, promising a lively and informed discussion.

The event is also intended to strengthen a broader engagement with indigenous knowledges and peoples through sharing spaces, sharing hospitality and sharing conversations – building upon the long presence of indigenous staff and students at the university.

“It is important to create a safe space in the University, which is attempting to grapple with improving employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians, and improving student outcomes”, said Andrew Bonnell, UQ Branch President of the NTEU.

“The appointment of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education) in 2011 was a positive step, but we would like to see greater commitment through stronger employment programmes, and better recognition of the tremendous body of knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“The event is open, and we encourage staff and students to attend, and learn about this important issue.”

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FRACKMAN at BEMAC Cinema April 20th

This gallery contains 2 photos.

THE ENEMY WITHIN (aka STILL THE ENEMY WITHIN) about the 1984-85 British Miners’ Strike. More details as they come to hand http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/ Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJF67Ma9VRs BEMA films is hosting the first of their BEMAC monthly doco screenings for the year on … Continue reading