Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mutitjulu question "military occupation" of their small community

Leaders of the Mutitjulu community today questioned the need for a military occupation of their small community.

We welcome any real support for indigenous health and welfare and even two police will assist, but the Howard Government declared an emergency at our community over two years ago - when they appointed an administrator to our health clinic - and since then we have been without a doctor, we have less health workers, our council has been sacked all our youth and health programmes have been cut.

We have no CEO and limited social and health services. The government has known about our overcrowding problem for at least 10 years and they’ve done nothing about it.

How do they propose keeping alcohol out of our community when we are 20 minutes away from 5 star hotel? Will they ban blacks from Yulara? We have been begging for an alcohol counsellor and a rehabilitation worker so that we can help alcoholics and substance abusers but those pleas have been ignored. What will happen to alcoholics when this ban is introduced? How will the government keep the grog runners out of our community without a permit system?

We have tried to put forward projects to make our community economically sustainable - like a simple coffee cart at the sunrise locations – but the government refuses to even consider them.

There is money set aside from the Jimmy Little foundation for a kidney dialysis machine at Mutitjulu, but National Parks won’t let us have it. That would create jobs and improve indigenous health but they just keep stonewalling us. If there is an emergency, why won’t Mal Brough fast track our kidney dialysis machine?

Some commentators have made much of the cluster of sexually transmitted diseases identified at our health clinic. People need to understand that Mutitjulu Health Clinic (now effectively closed) is a regional clinic and patients come from as far away as WA and SA; so to identify a cluster here is meaningless without seeing the confidential patient data.

The fact that we hold this community together with no money, no help, no doctor and no government support is a miracle. Any community, black or white would struggle if they were denied the most basic resources. Police and the Military are fine for logistics and coordination but healthcare, youth services, education and basic housing are more essential. Any programme must involve the people on the ground or it won’t work. For example who will interpret for the military?

Our women and children are scared about being forcibly examined; surely there is a need to build trust. Even the doctors say they are reluctant to examine a young child without a parent’s permission. Of course any child that is vulnerable or at risk should be immediately protected but a wholesale intrusion into our women and children’s privacy is a violation of our human and sacred rights.

Where is the money for all the essential services? We need long term financial and political commitment to provide the infrastructure and planning for our community. There is an urgent need for 10’s of millions of dollars to do what needs to be done. Will Mr Brough give us a commitment beyond the police and military?

The commonwealth needs to work with us to put health and social services, housing and education in place rather than treating Mutitjulu as a political football.

But we need to set the record straight:

There is no evidence of any fraud or mismanagement at Mutitjulu – we have had an administration for 12 months that found nothing

Mal Brough and his predecessor have been in control of our community for at least 12 months and we have gone backwards in services

We have successfully eradicated petrol sniffing from our community in conjunction with government authorities and oil companies

We have thrown suspected paedophiles out of our community using the permit system which our government now seeks take away from us.

We will work constructively with any government, State, Territory or Federal that wants to help aboriginal people.

Howard’s NT plans will “demoralise Aborigines”

Goodooga, northwest NSW, 25 June 2007 - - The spokesman for 16 Aboriginal tribes says the Howard government’s seizure of Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory will further demoralise communities of people who no longer understand pride and dignity because it was taken away from them a long time ago.

Michael Anderson, the only surviving founder of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra and elected spokesman for the Gumilaroi nation in northwest NSW and southwest Queensland, writes in a media release that Howard is a past master at finding an emotive matter to disguise his real agenda.

“The Australian voting public cannot permit itself to believe that this is in the ‘best interest’ of the Aboriginal people, in particular the children. The Australian community cannot accept what is planned and what has been said as gospel. The people of Australia must ask questions and not accept the spins blindly. Wake up Australia.”

Anderson writes that Howard’s intentions re-visit the 1930s assimilation policy.

“This was the ploy in 1937 when the Australian government convened a national conference of the Aboriginal Protectors from each of the Australian states which decided that the ‘best interest’ of the Aboriginal people was to assimilate them into the Australian community, forcing us to have the same beliefs and customs as all other Australians.

“Think hard, this move by this little man is nothing but a snow job for another agenda. The real agenda is what was said in that 1937 conference. We, the Australian governments, cannot permit the Northern Territory to be overpopulated by half-castes.

“The governments in the 1930s said children had to be taken away from their parents because the influence of their own communities was immoral and they were in danger of abuse and neglect, but the real agenda then was to de-Aboriginalise them. It is about to happen again.”

Anderson’s statement in full follows below. He can be reached at landline 02 68296355, mobile 04272 92 492, fax 02 68296375,

MEDIA RELEASE : Goodooga, northwest NSW, 25 June 2007

Wake up Australia. This is a re-visit to the 1930s assimilation policy. The Australian voting public cannot permit itself to believe that this is in the “best interest” of the Aboriginal people, in particular the children.

This was the ploy in 1937 when the Australian government convened a national conference of the Aboriginal Protectors from each of the Australian States which decided that the “best interest” of the Aboriginal people was to assimilate them into the Australian community, forcing us to have the same beliefs and customs as all other Australians.

Think hard, this move by this little man is nothing but a snow job for another agenda. The real agenda is what was said in that 1937 conference. We, the Australian governments cannot permit the Northern Territory to be overpopulated by half-castes.

In the 1970s the Black Power players argued that what we experienced down here in the south with the expansion of the white male population in the grazing industry will also happen to the people of the Northern Territory.

What the sheep industry brought to the west of NSW and southwest Queensland, the mining industry and service industries are now bringing to the people of those isolated communities in the Northern Territory: white men looking for the young and innocent, and with the aid of alcohol and drugs the people are sitting ducks just as we experienced down here. The governments in the 1930s said children had to be taken away from their parents because the influence of their own communities was immoral and they were in danger of abuse and neglect, but the real agenda then was to de-Aboriginalise them. It is about to happen again.

Read the report that triggered this knee-jerk emotive and political response. No one condones abuse of any kind but the report does not come right out and say it but between the lines the white men of influence are also held responsible for an unknown amount of the child abuse. And let us not overlook the negative influences the mines may be having as well. Maybe the workers need to be policed not our people. By opening up the reserves to people without the need for permits gives more people access than already exists.

Our people are like fish in a bowl. No way out and nowhere to go. Give our people access to their traditional lands and build their communities with the same amenities as all other Australians with the correct infrastructures. The Report does not say that this is a law and order issue, it is a social issue that will not be addressed by massive numbers of police and army.

John Howard must retract and refrain from his chosen course. This is not right and we all know it. He is a past master at finding an emotive matter to disguise his real agenda. What he is about to do will further demoralise communities of people who no longer understand pride and dignity because this was taken away from us a long time ago. The Australian community cannot accept what is planned and what has been said as gospel. The people of Australia must ask questions and not accept the spins blindly.

What if what is being done to us was planned for you, what would your response be? Just for one minute try and put yourself in my people’s shoes, would you agree to this?

Child abuse is acceptable to no one, but what John Howard is doing is also wrong. He argues that Aboriginal customary has not worked – that is because white law will not let it work.

What John Howard has done here is to criminalise all Aboriginal men and the Australian public knows nothing else. This is not acceptable in a democratic country where law and order is the main theme. Are my people to forget their right to fairness and due process?

Now we have John Howard arguing that he has the constitutional powers to pass laws for any race for whom he deems it necessary, but it seems it is always against the people and not for the people.

John Howard would be better served by making it possible to repatriate our people to their traditional homelands instead of maintaining a program forcing us to live in country where we are already refugees. I do hope that he does not repeat the NSW failed resettlement program of the 1970s for the people of the communities in the Northern Territory.

I appeal to my people and the fair-minded Australian public, DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN. Let us address the real issues, government neglect to de-colonising Aboriginal people and to establish programs that address the horror of the past. Our people still think that we must do it the white way and that does not compute for many. Our history is being obliterated and wiped from our memories. We are always asked to forget about the past but white Australia has monuments to their past and clubs whose motto it is to not forget. From the past we learn but Aboriginal people do not have this right, and white Australia will never learn because the truth is being hidden.

We could not control and manage our own affairs because the government bureaucrats had too much power and control. We had to do things the way they wanted. The truth is not being told here and the public cannot permit the perpetuation of lies and denial.

If John Howard is fair dinkum then let’s have a Royal Commission into the administration of Aboriginal affairs and let my people have their say about what is the truth. Why not, Mr Howard, maybe you and the rest of Australia can learn what is really going on instead of blaming the victim of Australia’s brutal treatment of my people.

Elders speak out: "the dog of white supremacy returns to its vomit"

The dog of “white supremacy” returns to its vomit. In a media statement on the 26th June the National Sorry Day Committee says there is now a real danger of the creation by the Howard government of another Stolen Generation.

"We are deeply concerned about the policy being articulated by the Prime Minister, and being implemented the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, for Federal Government ‘emergency measures’ relating to Aboriginal child safety within Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory," say the Committee in a statement. The NSDC is the long established premier National Advocate for the Stolen Generations.

MEDIA RELEASE 26 June 2007

It is with great sorrow that the National Sorry Day Committee condemns the Howard Government’s cherry picking of recommendations of previous Royal Commissions and National and State Inquiries into Aboriginal Affairs concerning the state of Indigenous Health, Education, Child Safety and Family Support with a complete disregard for the Human Rights of Indigenous Australia in the pursuit of an inadequate response to a decade of Federal Government neglect in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Sorry Day Committee expresses its strong regret, and with the greatest of reproach, that this blind disregard for the Human Rights of Indigenous Australia continues to be the shameful reality under the Howard Government’s continuation of a destructive policy in Indigenous Affairs.

We call on the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, to address the following facts:

- there are the 339 Recommendations from the Deaths in Custody Report, released in 1990.
- there are the 54 Recommendations from Bringing Them Home Report, released in 1997.
- now there are another 97 Recommendations from the Little Children are Sacred Report, released in June 2007. This makes a grand a total of 490 recommendations.

It is agreed amongst commentators that most of the earlier 393 recommendations until June 2007 either have been absolutely ignored, or implemented in an ineffectual manner through inadequate funding, limited resources and insufficient service providers and staff.

The 54 Recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report, released in 1997 have been stonewalled for the ten years in which John Howard has led this nation.

There is still no apology.

Were the Howard Government to have initiated responsible action based on these recommendations, including a national apology, then the issues facing the Stolen Generations and the consequential trans-generational issues which now so damagingly impact on all Aboriginal communities would have been addressed, and some definite positive change to the Human Rights and the living conditions of all Aboriginal people, and especially Aboriginal children, would have been brought about by now.

Instead Prime Minister Howard has refused any adequate response to the recommendations from the Bringing Them Home Report report, with the ongoing damage to human lives we see today.

The current realisation by the Federal Government of this National Emergency is a manifestation of the decade of inadequate Child Protection by the Federal Government in Indigenous communities.

However, and quite reprehensively, Prime Minister Howard is using this tragic reality to deflect public attention away from the fact that it has been his government that has consistently denied the affected Aboriginal children any adequate access to their basic human rights in: health, housing, education, personal security, safety and well being.

But more than that, and in the absence of a genuine national apology from him for his involvement in fostering these vicious circumstances afflicting Aboriginal people across Australia, the Prime Minister is proving himself patently to be insincere.

He knows that he has much to answer for his own neglect and indifference to Aboriginal people.

Both during his time in the Fraser Government as the Nation’s Treasurer and now as the Nation’s Prime Minister, John Howard has had the power and the financial capacity under the constitution to remove, alleviate and redress the deprivation and chronically deteriorated living conditions Aboriginal children, their families and communities have had to endure, especially under Liberal administration.

The Little Children are Sacred Report thoroughly examines the issue of Aboriginal child sexual abuse.

The report recognises the issue as one of urgent national significance, recommending that both the Australian and Northern Territory Governments establish an immediate collaborative partnership with a Memorandum of Understanding to specifically address the protection of Aboriginal children from sexual abuse.

Most significantly, the report asserts it is critical that both governments commit to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people in designing initiatives for Aboriginal communities.

Recommendations 4, 5, 40 a, b

4. That the government develop a Child Impact Analysis for all major policy and practice proposals across Government.

5. That the government develop a whole of- government approach in respect of child sexual abuse. Protocols should be developed as a matter of urgency to enhance information sharing between agencies and the development of a coordinated approach in which all agencies acknowledge a responsibility for child protection.. The approach might build on the work of the Strategic Management Group and Child Abuse Taskforce but needs to extend well beyond those initiatives.

40. That the Northern Territory Government work with the Australian Government in consultation with Aboriginal communities to:
a. develop a comprehensive long-term strategy to build a strong and equitable core service platform in Aboriginal communities, to address the underlying risk factors for child sexual abuse and to develop functional communities in which children are safe

b. through this strategy, address the delivery of core educational and Primary Health Care (PHC) services to Aboriginal people including home visitation and early years services (see Chapter on Health).

We call on the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, to provide the Australian people with justifiable answers at a minimum to the following pressing questions that arise from the recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred Report:

- What consultations and plans have been made in regard to this newest policy for reform that will ensure that it is implemented with and not against the Indigenous population?
- What assistance and support if any is there in the areas of detoxification, rehabilitation, counselling, and education?
- What resources and services are there to support Indigenous people once these changes are made?
- How will people be assisted safely to come off their alcohol or substance addiction?
- Where are the rehabilitation services to be established and to what degree will they be effective?
- Where are the trauma counselling and support services for families to be instituted?

But there is another question that cannot be suppressed regarding the motives behind John Howard’s sweeping policy and the significance of the timing to impose such a draconian plan on the run and without prior departmental analysis and comprehensive costings, which relates to the influence it will have on the polls and voting in the next federal election:

- Have the opinion polls scared John Howard to the point where he is scrambling to influence votes with the Race Card, at the expense of Australia’s Aboriginal Community?

With one of the first Aboriginal communities targeted for the immediate introduction of Australia’s armed forces in a support role with conscripted police enforcement from all around the country being Mutitjulu Community (a dry Community) at the base of Uluru, not only just Aboriginal people are seeing this as proof of the intention to use “Martial Law”.

Mutitjulu Community is one of the many Aboriginal Communities that have been directly affected by Deaths in Custody, previous Government Removal Policies and continual trans-generational abuse and neglect through government policy and control.

There are three significant interrelated events that have occurred in the Northern Territory since June 15, 2007 and which are of substantial concern to the National Sorry Day Committee:

1) The public release on 15 June 2007 of the Northern Territory Government's report from its Board of Inquiry into Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.

2) The winning by Mutitjulu Community of its Federal Court challenge to the appointment of a Perth-based administrator by the Federal Government. This means that the community's former governing committee will soon resume its role. In 2006 the Registrar had given only one day's notice, after the federal government said the community's funding would cease unless an administrator was appointed. The federal appeal court judges said that: "There was no evidence of any particular threatened unlawful or imprudent transaction on the part of the (Mutitjulu) Corporation that needed to be urgently prevented".

3) The Howard Government’s announcement of a new policy of intended measures against the Indigenous communities through out the Northern Territory claiming it to be “in the best interest of the children”.

Highly respected Mutitjulu Elder and Stolen Generations Survivor, Bob Randall, producer of the newly released film Kanyini, revealed to the National Sorry Day Committee that following the accusations presented on ABC TV’s Lateline in July 2006 by a staffer in the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough’s, office that members of the Mutitjulu Community were sexually abusing and prostituting children, a full investigation by both local and territory police found nothing to substantiate the accusations. There have been no arrests nor have any charges been brought against any of the 95 community members.

Bob Randall further identified that since the policy of self-determination came into practice in the Mutitjulu Community back in 1972, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs removed the staff that were then working there and have starved the community of the competent staff and resources that the community needed to operate effectively. Instead, the government left untrained people to take over.

Over the last decade the Howard Government has further withdrawn and reduced funding and resources, with a total neglect of the basic needs of the Community, which was then forced into an unnecessarily bureaucratic form of over-administration and is now being bullied into signing 99 year lease agreements.

The plight of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory expresses the plight of all Indigenous Australians who have been crying out for initiatives and actions that the Howard Government has and continues to ignore.

The 1967 Referendum may have recognised Aboriginal people as Citizens of Australia to be counted in the Census, but in reality the present Government’s attitude and intent is to continue to enact the “white” culturally dominated Liberal view of administration in disguise for the same old racist implementation of the life threatening and soul destroying manipulation of Indigenous Australian’s basic human needs that had characterised the federal view of the constitution up to 1967.

This current policy to undertake the drastic measures imposed by the Prime Minister, comes from the same racist and draconian political manoeuvres of past governments stretching back beyond federation that encompass the forceful displacement of Indigenous people using the Policies of Forced Removal of Aboriginal Child as they were progressively implemented under the equally inhumane and discredited Policies of Martial Law, Protection, Assimilation, Integration and now Absorption.

All of these policies fomented and implemented national acts of Genocide and it appears the intent for the dog of “white supremacy” to return to its vomit is relentless.

The National Sorry Day Committee is horrified that the Prime Minister is apparently intent on unashamedly and deliberately using Aboriginal children in the same way that past governments, through the Removal Policies that created the Stolen Generations, used Aboriginal children to control the lives, lands and rights of Indigenous Australia.

The National Sorry Day Committee calls upon each right thinking and fair-minded Australians with a sense of just decency to assume the responsibility to prevent such an outrage from happening again.

Helen Moran – Indigenous Co-Chair - 0413 246 470
Tiffany McComsey Non-Indigenous Co-Chair - 0412 391 746

ABC REPORT: AFP team arrives in NT for Indigenous plan

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Howards military plan causing panic in Indigenous communitues

"...they think the army is coming to grab their kids and the police are coming to help them. The women and the kids are scared and they are running to the sand hills..."

June 26, 2007 - A group of 60 Aboriginal and community groups will deliver a letter to Prime Minister John Howard urging him to rethink his military plan to stamp out indigenous child abuse in the Northern Territory. The delegation from all states and territories call for Mr Howard to consult with indigenous people on ways to tackle the root causes of the abuse rather than send in the troops.

Mr Howard says he will abolish the Aboriginal permit system and mobilise extra police and defence forces into remote Indigenous communities. The Federal Government says it may compulsorily acquire as many as 70 Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

Aboriginal mothers in the NT are taking their children and fleeing into the sandhills because of fears the government will take them away...
Federal Police officers began arriving in the Northern Territory this week with other states to follow. The Federal Justice Minister David Johnston says the Prime Minister can force states to send officers to join the invasion.

Olga Havnen, a prominent Aboriginal leader in the Northern Territory, warned the intervention model announced by the government, could do more harm than good. "It's crazy stuff. I don't think people have thought through the unintentional consequences," said Ms Havnen, the deputy chief executive of the Northern Land Council. "People there are scared stiff," she told a corporate media source.

"They want to flee, to get out of there. That's the level of panic and fear that this has caused out in the communities." She said the plan for every child to have a compulsory health check was met with "shock and horror". "It's pretty draconian and drastic, one would have thought," Ms Havnen said.

Mutitjulu Elder Vince Forrester says the changes are unnecessary and are causing widespread fear in Central Australia. Police and the defence force are expected to be deployed to Mutitjulu next week and Mr Forrester says many Aboriginal mothers are taking their children into the sandhills because of fears the government will take them away.

The community says the Howard Government declared an emergency at the local health clinic more than two years ago. It says since then Mutitjulu has been without a doctor, has had health and youth programs cut and the council has been sacked. The leaders say community members must be consulted to ensure the success of any program.

Greens leader Bob Brown says years of inaction by Mr Howard have forced the Government into dangerous racial discrimination territory. "It is a pre-election push which is action on a scale that is absolutely not needed," he said.

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett says it is an outrageous authoritarian crackdown, and he is outraged Mr Howard did not first consult the Indigenous communities. "If they aren't involved in developing the solutions, then the solutions aren't going to work," he said.

Mutitjulu locals accuse the commonwealth of treating their community as a "political football", saying it should concentrate on health, education and social services instead of sending troops.

They charge that government neglect had brought the situation to a crisis point. "We have been begging for an alcohol counsellor and a rehabilitation worker so that we can help alcoholics and substance abusers but those pleas have been ignored," they said.

"When your bringing armed forces into the communities obviously people's minds are going to start playing tricks on them," Vince Forrester said. "You don't bring an army into the community, this is just intimidation of the aboriginal community in the Northern Territory."

Mutitjulu resident Mario Giuseppe says the community is in "terror". "I thought the government was here to protect the women and children and they are scaring the living daylights out of them," he told the ABC. "This is bringing back a lot of memories and opening a lot of scars for these old people here, they are running to the hills and hiding."

Women were scared that police were being sent out to the community to take away their children, Mr Giuseppe said. "They think the army is coming to grab their kids and the police are coming to help them. The women and the kids are scared and they are running to the sand hills."

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who calls the measures "a throwback to paternalism," along with indigenous leader Lowitja O'Donoghue, also criticise the Commonwealth proposal. They say the Government measures show a lack of consultation and funding. "Without respect, without discussion and agreement it is difficult to see any measures working as effectively as we would all want..." they said. They pointed also to the disbanding of ATSIC, saying Australia was alone among the western democracies in not having elected representation for its indigenous people.

Mick Dodson, professor at ANU noted the Little Children are Sacred report had emphasised that "the majority of perpetrators in Aboriginal communities are non-indigenous men people who come into the communities to work".

The Federal Government has established a panel including WA magistrate Sue Gordon, the Australian Federal Police's Shane Castles, former Woolworths boss Roger Corbett and former AMA boss Bill Glasson. Mr Howard confirmed cabinet would soon extend the quarantining of welfare payments for Aboriginal people.

The West Australian Premier, Alan Carpenter, says the action is an election-year stunt, declaring there was no doubt this was Howard's "new Tampa". WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan says he has no plans of sending officers to the Northern Territory. Mr O'Callaghan says police working in regional areas of Western Australia already have their hands full.

Professor George Williams from the University of NSW says it is the most significant takeover of territory power since self-government, and it highlights the paternalistic relationship between the Commonwealth and the NT. "We've never seen such extensive intervention, nor such an intervention that would affect so many people within the Territory," he said.

Aboriginal leaders in the territory want to know whether the Federal Government will provide the money needed for housing, education and health in remote areas. "If the Government does not provide the funds it will be seen to be playing politics with Aboriginal people's lives," said Tracker Tilmouth, a former head of the Central Land Council.

The Territory needs 4000 houses, at a cost of $1.4 billion. Even if Canberra put up the money it would be impossible to find workers and materials to build them immediately.

The need for schools is estimated at $60 million a year over 10 years just to provide teachers and facilities for school-age children if they all turned up for classes each day. A further $50 million a year for the next 10 years is needed to fix health services.

Indigenous mothers running scared: Elder
ABC News
Mutitjulu in eye of storm
Canberra Times
Statement from the Stolen Generations Alliance
Australia: military occupies aboriginal communities

All WA police to carry stun guns

June 26, 2007: The West Australian Police Commissioner, Karl O'Callaghan, says all officers on duty will be equipped with stun guns. The WA police force has purchased another 1,100 Tasers. Shaped like a gun but battery-operated, a Taser fires two fishhooklike barbs into a person's skin and disrupts a person's muscle control for five seconds.

The darts have a range of up to 21 feet; the tool also can be pressed directly against a person to use in stun mode. The pain can be excruciating, "freezing" someone on the spot

The Commissioner says officers will have a one-day training course on how to use the guns during the next six months. In the USA, 2000 approximately 5000 officers were been issued with tasers. By 2004 about 100,000 officers in over 5500 police forces across the United states have been issued with them.

Over 60 people have died in the United States after being tasered...

Tasers are powerful electrical weapons used by over 7,000 of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the USA. They are designed to incapacitate by conducting 50,000 volts of electricity into your body. The electrical pulses induce skeletal muscle spasms that immobilise and incapacitate, causing you to collapse to the ground.

More than 150 people have died in the US after being struck by tasers since June 2001 - 61 in 2005 alone - and numbers are continuing to rise. Most who died were subjected to multiple or prolonged shocks. In 2006, Nickolos Cyrus, a 29-year-old man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was shocked 12 times with a Taser stun gun after a Wisconsin police officer caught him trespassing on a construction site.

Also in 2006, an American teenager carrying a Bible who shouted "I want Jesus" was killed after being shot twice by a police stun gun. Police in Missouri said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling.

In Seattle in 2004, deputies pulled over Valinda Otis, who told them she was 3 months pregnant and needed to use the bathroom. When police wouldn't let her go to a nearby restroom, she walked toward it anyway, and was quickly handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. She screamed and kicked the car door. That's when a deputy with the King County Sheriff's Office pulled out a Taser, pressed it against her thigh and jolted her with 50,000 volts of electricity.

"It was a sharp pain," said Otis, 24, who was three months pregnant at the time of the incident. "I kept asking, 'Is it gonna mess up my baby?'"

As well, deputies fired Tasers at a teenager who ran after not paying a $1 bus fare, a 71-year-old man who refused to get into a police car, and a partially deaf man who couldn't hear deputies ordering him to stop, reports show. About three out of four of those shocked by Seattle police were unarmed.

Civil rights advocates in the United States argue Tasers are being drawn too quickly and in cases in which such extreme force isn't necessary. They worry about potential abuses as more officers rely on the tool to subdue people who they say pose no serious threat to themselves or others.

In November 2004 Amnesty International published a comprehensive report detailing it's concerns over the use of tasers in the USA, calling for a suspension on their use and transfer pending an independent, rigorous and impartial inquiry into their use.


Arguments Against Tasers Being Issued To All Operational Police

* Expense including costs of training is better used for training about handling people in mentally affected states, in particular people with mental illness.

* Accountability while advocates argue that the tasers have inbuilt chips which record use, details of police use of weaponry is not made available to the public and as no organisation is funded to routinely obtain these detail, they remain hidden from the public.

* Threats: There is no way of keeping track of how often or in what circumstances a taser has been used to obtain compliance without being fired ('threatened use'). It is one of Taser's strengths that it can defuse a situation without actually being used, but also one of its weaknesses. The threat of a being shocked can and will be used to obtain compliance when violence was not an issue.

* Safety: 150 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being tasered and concerns are mounting as the number of deaths increases. After 6 deaths in Canada, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, in August this year, requested a "unique and comprehensive review of scientific research, field reports, and data on the use of Tasers in police work in Canada and around the World" (RCMP News Report 18/8/04).

* Lack of scientific research: There is a paucity of independent and rigorous research into the effects and safety of the tasers. There have been no tests published in scholarly peer-review scientific journals. Taser relies on two studies, one of a single pig in 1996 and on five dogs in 1999 conducted by company paid researchers. They also cite many examples of police voluntarily being tasered as evidence of safety, but for the most part they receive a shock one tenth that given to suspects. Medical experts warn to be wary of labelling tasers safe.

* Vulnerable groups: There are people who are particularly at risk when tasered. These are pregnant women and those with cardiovascular disease, people who are drug affected, young people, older people and those with mental illness. Some of these people such as those drug affected and with a mental illness are more likely to be tasered.

* Increased use: As the use of tasers become more accepted their use will increase, so that they are used in situations where they are not an alternative to deadly force but to ensure compliance. A 2002 study found 85% of people shocked with tasers were unarmed.

* Abuse: Reports of abuse of tasers when issued to all police are growing along with deaths.

o In Canada an officer has been charges with tasering a man while police handcuffed him; a peaceful protester was tasered as he lay on the ground in passive resistance; in May 2003 10 Algerians facing deportation from Canada were repeatedly tasered for refusing to leave the immigration ministers office.

o In the United States, suspects already in custody are tasered; a hand cuffed 9 year old girl was tasered; a 66 year old woman was tasered; in at least three dozen cases from Denver, police tasered the person multiple times in one incident; one man was tasered twice after he was handcuffed and in the car.

* Logistics: the weight of police belts exceeds 4 kg causing back problems and slowing police down. Another piece of kit will obviously add to this...


Lawyers warn against Taser guns
Police are too quick to grab for Taser
USA: Taser-related deaths pass 150 mark
2004 Amnesty International
Taser death a cause for alarm
Death by Taser: The Killer Alternative to Guns

Five peace activists arrested at Talisman Sabre war games

June 22, 2007 - Five peace activists have been arrested and a 66-year-old woman is still at large at the site of Talisman Sabre 07 - a large-scale military exercise involving Australian and US troops in central Queensland.

Military police located the five protesters - aged 22 to 53 - inside the Military Training Area on Thursday morning. Three women and two men have been charged with trespassing on Commonwealth land and will appear in the Yeppoon Magistrates Court on August 2...

"Another world is possible: that is why we act"
The five Christian pacifists entered the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on Thursday to raise their concerns about and stop the Talisman Sabre live military exercises taking place over the next two weeks.

Simon Reeves (26 yrs Melbourne – Social Worker), Simon Moyle (30 yrs Melbourne – Baptist Minister), Krystal Spencer (21yrs Melbourne – Student), Sarah Williams (23 yrs Melbourne – Support Worker) and Carol Powell (53yrs Brisbane – Nurse (Registered) released the following statement before they entered the area:


Imagining Peace: We plan to enter the base to disrupt these military exercise with our presence. We do so openly and honestly, without deception, and while actively seeking out military personnel with whom to dialogue.

We are five nonviolent Christian people who, like the prophet Isaiah, are working towards the day when people will beat swords into ploughshares and study war no more. As followers of the nonviolent Jesus, we cannot stand by while our country plans the destruction of our brothers and sisters in other countries and the environment here at Shoalwater Bay.

We do not take these actions lightly, but with an awareness that the gravity of our actions pales in comparison to the crimes of the Australian and US militaries this week. The destruction of pristine wilderness, with unique and endangered wildlife is unacceptable, as is the increased reliance on violent methods of conflict resolution.We take these actions because all other legal attempts to stop the exercises have failed.

People are likely to say that we have no respect for the law, however, this is not so. Rather, we say, with Martin Luther King Jr. and in accordance with the principles of nonviolence, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

We believe that practicing for war only means more war. That is why we must imagine peace, embody peace, practice peace. Another world is possible: that is why we act.


June Norman, 66, from Goodna, south of Brisbane, was last seen near the training area on Tuesday morning.

“War is not a game. I feel for the children of Iraq who are being killed by the actions of the US and our military,” Mrs Norman said before she disappeared behind the barb wire fence yesterday of the military training area. As she entered the prohibited zone, Mrs Norman said has taken this personal action because she is ashamed of our government’s role in Iraq. “The military has upped the ante with these military exercises and I felt I had to respond accordingly,” said the Brisbane great grandmother.

Several groups entered the Shoalwater Bay site in the past few days in an effort to disrupt the exercise. Police say they believe Ms Norman was staying with friends at a caravan park at Yeppoon, south of Shoalwater Bay.

Peace Convergence organisers are concerned that the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) are not taking seriously securing the safety of peace activists who went inside the Shoalwater Bay military training area this week. Statements released to the media by the military indicate they don’t believe activists actually penetrated and went inside the military firing zone.

Peace Convergence spokesperson Treena Lenthall said, “This is not a stunt. These people have made a personal decision based on their moral convictions the only way they can stop the war exercises is to risk their lives. They feel strongly about the war in Iraq and stopping the environmental damage to Shoalwater Bay from these military exercises.

“Their lives are on the line and we want a commitment from ADF that according to normal Defence protocols live firing will cease until they are found,” Ms Lenthall said. “Their safety should be of prime concern to the military. At least two of the activists have young children under the age of two, and their partners as with the families of all those risking their lives, need assurance that their loved ones won’t be accidentally killed or injured.”

Peace Convergence organisers have contacted politicians hoping questions will be raised in Federal parliament before it rises for the winter recess at the end of this week. “So far, the silence from the parliamentary benches from both major parties regarding the safety of these seven has been deafening,” says Ms Lenthall. “The politicians seem more intent on awarding themselves a $20,000 plus pay rise than they are about seeing that these people are not killed by our forces or the US military,” she said.

Meanwhile, the federal government has reminded peace activists that they have a responsibility not to expose themselves to risk while protesting. Federal Human Services Minister Chris Ellison, speaking for Defence Minister Brendan Nelson in the Senate, said the Department of Defence respected people's right to exercise their freedom of speech. But those who protested unlawfully could not expect the same protection as those who did so lawfully, he said.

Media Spokesperson contact:
Jacob Bolton: Justice and Peace Initiates 0433 832 000
Frank Bruinstroop: Just Peace 0438 779 324
Treena Lenthall: 0432 563 967.

Brisbane Times
Peace Convergence Media
Peace Convergence Media 2

Conservationists protest Kimberley gas plant

18 June 2007: Activists have converged on a drilling rig off the Western Australian coast to protest against plans to build a major gas plant. The protesters say a Japanese project will destroy one of the world's last wilderness areas.

Arriving in boats and seaplanes, the activists hung banners on a drilling rig at the Maret Islands, north-east of Broome...

Japanese company Inpex is using the rig to assess the area for a liquefied natural gas plant to service one of Australia's biggest reserves, the Browse Basin.

The conservationists and tour operators travelled hundreds of kilometres to highlight their concerns. Protester and conservationist Malcolm Douglas told the crowd the plant would destroy one of the world's last great wilderness areas.

"We've come to the Maret Islands to protest because we've got the beginning of industrialisation of the Kimberley," he said. "If they were doing this at Uluru, if they were doing this off the Great Barrier Reef, the whole of the east coast of Australia would know what's going on," he said.

Inpex labelled the protesters' claims as "scaremongering" in a statement. The islands are being assessed by the Japanese company Inpex for a processing plant to service the massive Browse Basin gas fields.

WA State Development Minister Ripper says strict environmental and other requirements would have to be met before the project would be given the go ahead.

The island's native title claimants earlier announced they were willing to negotiate a deal with the company. Kimberley Land Council's Wayne Bergmann says the proposed plant offers opportunities for the islands' native title claimants. "We think that if done properly it can have wide benefits for the region," he said.

The protesters argue that once it comes online, the gas will be used to power a string of other resource projects, destroying the wilderness coastline.

Lyndon Schneiders: 073 844 6499 || 0407 667 076 ||

Photo below from ABC

Minister dismisses Kimberley gas protest
Conservationists protest Kimberley gas plant
Kimberley Land Council sees benefits in gas project
Activists protest Ichthys project

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

APEC black list - Why are you surprised?

Are you on a list of "excludable persons" from APEC07?

Proposed laws around APEC are a draconian, unreasonable curb on the right to protest - a direct attack on every citizen’s right to dissent.

The APEC summit will discuss how to best push their policies of cuts, privatisation, free trade, and IR laws down workers throats. The world’s biggest war criminals, environmental polluters and exploitative bosses will discuss ways of increasing profits while ordinary people with legitimate concerns are locked out.

The unprecedented security operation to protect George W Bush and other political leaders will see the introduction of new APEC security legislation. These new laws will include the "suspension of normal bail provisions, new powers to do random searches, and exclude "prohibited" people from restricted zones. Anyone under suspicion can be arrested and held without bail.

The "APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007" allows the Police Commissioner to create a secret list of people who are excluded from APEC "security areas". Police Minister, David Campbell:

"Those who have been involved in violent and disruptive protests in the past will most likely be on this list. They won't need to be informed - they know who they are."

Police will be able to compile a list of people or organisations without any fundamental justification, who can be listed as "excludable persons" - reminiscent of communist East Germany.

These measures are not aimed at possible terrorist attacks but at criminalising dissent and stifling opposition to the neo-liberal polices that APEC represents. The Police say they will "use any number of methods to gather intelligence about individuals and organisations"...

The APEC Bill will, according to the NSW government, prevent protesters from "terrifying the public". The law would:

- create "restricted" and "declared" areas in large parts of central Sydney;

- allow the police to stop and search anyone in or around these areas and confiscate items considered "prohibited", including banner poles;

- allow for six-month jail terms for simply entering a restricted area without justification and two years’ jail for carrying a “prohibited item”;

- and presume against bail for many offences (meaning people arrested could be detained for up to two weeks).

The law would also:

- severely limit police liability, raising the possibility that the police will be allowed to break the law with impunity,

- allow police to create secret lists of "excluded people" including those who fail to comply with a police order during APEC and those who the police consider pose a "threat" to people or property during APEC. These people will be prevented from entering parts of Sydney during APEC.

These extraordinary police powers, aimed at protesters, are designed to deflect the public discussion [around] APEC away from the real and terrible violence and injustice in the world today...

Thanks to:
Protest extraordinary police powers for APEC
Activists set to defy APEC laws
Police accused of intimidation over APEC
For APEC, the long arm of the law takes a stretch
hose on APEC black list "know who they are"
APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007
MUTINY: to people thinking about organising protests at APEC
APEC security: treating protesters like terrorists
Accused G20 rioters appear in Vic court - March 20

Support queer rights in Western Australia

[ June 18, 2007: If you support the right of gay/lesbian couples to adopt, PLEASE email/write to The West in support of Michael Bennett, who wrote the excellent story on page 9 of today's West. Recently a West editorial railed against gay adoption and argued that a gay relationship was essentially not equal to a hetero one: email here: - Or online, Have Your Say... Please write in supporting gay adoption (if you do in fact support it). Thank you ]

JUNE 19, 2007 - Last week Western Australian’s first adoption by a same-sex couple has been approved more than four years after the Gallop Labor Government overturned laws discriminating against homosexual citizens. The male couple was first approved to adopt three years ago and the relinquishing mother has consented to the adoption.

The law reforms in 2002 amended the Act to end discrimination on the grounds of the gender of couples seeking to adopt.

The Adoption Act is exempt from the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act, however, and a relinquishing parent has the right to discriminate against potential adopting parents on grounds including gender and religion.

Meanwhile Pride Western Australia Incorporated today announced that local lesbian activists Kelly and Sam Pilgrim Byrne would become Pride's first co-patrons. Kelly and Sam say, "Gay parenting isn't new - our families have existed for decades," they said. "Our goal as Pride Patrons is to draw attention to this fact and to let people know that good parenting is not defined by sexuality and that our children are growing up with exactly the same outcomes as children of heterosexuals.

"We want LGBT families to be confident of their parenting abilities and proud of their beautiful children. We want our community's children to know that they are not alone in having LGBT mothers and fathers and that they are cherished, loved and very special." After spending three and a half years trying to conceive, Kelly and Sam are expecting their first child, with Sam more than six months pregnant.

The 2007 Pride Festival will commence with the City of Perth Pride Fairday in Northbridge's Russell Square on Sunday 30 September, run throughout October with a number of arts and community events, before concluding with the Pride Parade through the streets of Northbridge.

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says the Labor Party's support for same sex couples appears to have taken a further backward step after they decided to vote with the Government to oppose a Greens' motion in the Senate in support of same sex rights to access IVF and adoption.

"After the tragedy of the ALP supporting the Howard Government's ban on same sex marriage, the ALP's credibility in this area is looking even more shaky", Senator Nettle said. The Prime Minister has publicly objected to same-sex relationships.

Same-sex marriage is not recognised under Australian federal law. Under section 51(xxi) [1] of the Australian Constitution, the Parliament of Australia is vested with the powers to make laws with respect to marriage. Until 2004 the Marriage Act 1961 did not define marriage, but the common law definition of marriage as "a union between a man and a woman" was applied by Australian courts and was taken to be "settled law."

On May 27, 2004, Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, introduced the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill, intending to incorporate the common law definition of marriage into the Marriage Act and the Family Law Act. In June 2004, the bill passed the House of Representatives. On August 13, 2004, the Senate passed the amendment by 38 votes to 6.

"..Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia."

In Australia, civil celebrants conduct commitment ceremonies so that same-sex couples can participate in a ceremony to acknowledge their love and partnership. The federal government however has introduced a registration system whereby prospective celebrants must undergo Government-approved, accredited training and meet specific criteria set by the Attorney-General's Department to be declared a "fit and proper person" to hold the office of "marriage celebrant".

Under the new rules a registered celebrant is not permitted to conduct commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.

First gay adoption something to be proud of - GAYinWA
Gay WA couple granted adoption - Perth Indymedia
Pride names patrons and theme for 2007 Festival - GAYinWA
Same-sex marriage in Australia - Wikipedia
Inquiry into Discrimination against People in Same-Sex Relationships
Marriage Amendment Bill 2004

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Peace Convergence - Stop Talisman Sabre

From the newswire: June 19 2007:
The Peace Convergence
is a nonviolent gathering in the Shoalwater region from 18 to 24 June 2007. Peace and social justice, environment, indigenous, women's, secular and faith based groups and individuals are invited to join with the local community - to nonviolently oppose the war games and the environmental destruction it will cause; and to voice our call for an end to the war in Iraq, and Australian involvement with illegal and unjust US-led wars. The Talisman Sabre 2007 War Games are the largest joint USA exercises conducted in Australia, and vital to the USA’s regional dominance through the Pacific Command in Hawaii, linked to bases in Alaska.

There has been a flurry of activity which has seen the establishment of the "Shoalwater Embassy in Yeppoon", a new Peace Convergence website and an exciting programme of events and action for the week ahead. Talisman Sabre troop numbers are building – 5000 US military were in Brisbane last weekend on R&R. The numbers will build to over 20,000 US troops over the war games. Read more at: and

Exercise TS07 involves 32,000 military members from both nations that will feature crisis-action planning and execution of contingency response operations in land, sea and air maneuvers.
The exercises will impact on the environment of the region, the community, our neighbours in the Pacific, and our relationship with the rest of the world.

Heavy metals and toxins used in munitions, erosion-causing amphibious landings, the possibility of toxic spills and the use of sonar all impact on the 38 listed vulnerable species in the area including dugong and the Green Turtle.

US ships will be nuclear powered and possibly carrying nuclear weapons. The exercises are used to practice bombing, raiding and invading, not defence. Military exercises and bases are known to bring long term social problems to the regions they visit. The joint military exercises are a continuation of the legacy of genocide, colonisation and nuclear experimentation in Australia and this region. The exercises promote violence and aggression as a solution to world problems, rather than working towards peace.

The Operation Talisman Sabre war games will occur over a six week period until 2 July 2007 involving approximately 13,700 US personnel and 12,400 Australian personnel. Exercise activity will be located at Australian Defence training areas including the Australian-US "training facilities": Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and Bradshaw and Delamere Range in the Northern Territory. Support sites including civilian facilities in Australia, offshore and overseas will also be utilised.
READ MORE/Comment...

Defence greenwash on war games a toxic lie

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stop offshore asylum processing - tear down the fences

Thursday, June 14, 2007: A petition of 10,000 signatures has been presented to Federal Parliament opposing the offshore processing of asylum seekers. The petition calls for the processing centres on Christmas Island and Nauru to be shut down will be tabled in parliament next week...

Labor backbencher Carmen Lawrence says asylum seekers do not have proper access to the medical and legal help they need when they are processed away from the Australian mainland.

"I'd like to add my voice very strongly to the petitioners who have spoken on behalf of a great many more Australians, who I'm sure would have signed it had they known of its existence," she said. "I've been impressed by just how strong community attitude remains in opposition to these obscenities we call offshore processing."

The signatures, collected over the past three months by refugee advocate groups A Just Australia, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the National Council of Churches, were handed to MPs on Thursday.

The establishment of the high security detention centre on Christmas Island, which is near completion, has so far cost taxpayers $400 million. Petition coordinator Kate Gauthier said the cost demonstrated the economic irrationalism of offshore processing.

"It's an incredible mismanagement of funds when you also allow into the fact that they've spent around $100 million on Nauru and processing ... we've had about slightly under 2,000 people go through that process (so) it equals about $400,000 per person," she said. "Human rights advocates are not asking the government to spend more money on asylum seekers - ironically in this case we are pleading with them to spend less."

Labor MP Dr Carmen Lawrence, who accepted the petition, said the cost was an obscene waste of taxpayers money. "The $400 million that has been spent on Christmas Island in fact remains an obstacle for future governments: what do you do with this facility now that it has been constructed?" she said. "Obscene amounts of taxpayers' money has been spent ... on damaging people, that's the frustrating thing."

Australian Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett compared the cost to the amount of money suggested to be the cost to reduce the life expectancy gap of indigenous Australians that currently remains 17 years below that of other Australians.

"The Australian Medical Association has been campaigning for years saying the amount that's needed for address the gap of indigenous health in Australia is around about $400 million," he said. "That's a good contrast of where this government's priorities lie, $400 million for a centre when we don't have any people to put in it to purely send a message to somebody, or reducing the 17 year life expectancy gap."

A Senate committee report - the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal on mandatory detention - will be tabled in parliament soon.

Senator Bartlett, who recently returned from a visit to the asylum seekers’ camp on Nauru warning that there must be a much quicker resolution to all claims to avoid the major harm and costs that have occurred in the past.

Senator Bartlett said the conditions the refugees are being kept in are an improvement on past years, but the key dangers remain the same – the potential for long delays and a lack of legal protections in determining claims, along with difficulties with isolation and adequate access to legal assistance.

“We know beyond doubt that prolonged uncertainty and insecurity about the future, along with the underlying fear of being sent back to unsafe situation, causes immense harm to many asylum seekers,” Senator Bartlett said.

“The group of Burmese refugees have already been on Nauru for seven months and are yet to have an initial assessment interview. This is simply unacceptable.

“Whilst there has been opportunity for asylum seekers to receive some legal assistance, the difficulties with accessibility mean that full and proper help has not been provided. This not only impairs fairness, it almost inevitably means a more drawn out process, risking greater harm for asylum seekers and greater cost to the Australian public,” Senator Bartlett concluded.

There are 90 asylum seekers currently on Nauru – 82 Tamils who have been there for about a month, and 8 Rohingya from Burma who arrived in Australian in August and were transferred to Nauru in September.

Senator Bartlett met with many of the ninety asylum seekers currently being kept on Nauru and inspected the facility where they are staying.

Senator Bartlett
The Age
A Just Australia
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
National Council of Churches in Australia

Pilbara workers attack BHP over AWAs

June 13, 2007 - Hundreds of mine workers at BHP Billiton's Pilbara iron ore operations have protested over "belligerent and overbearing treatment" from management after being put on Australian Workplace Agreements.

A petition at BHP Billiton's iron ore mine at Mt Newman in Western Australia has been signed by over 200 people, complaining about an "atmosphere of intimidation and victimisation" surrounding workers who have signed Australian Workplace Agreements...
The miners say the were feared threats, stress, low morale and risks to safety as miners have been placed in areas had no experience. Up to 10 per cent of the total workforce at BHP's Mount Whaleback mine in Western Australia - believed to be about 2000 - had joined the protest.

Among the 200 miners alleged to have signed the petition, six spoke publicly about their treatment by management under AWAs.

Gary Martin, who has never been a union member is the supervisor of Newman's mobile equipment workshop. "I was considering just leaving. It's common enough that if you're not happy in a work environment you'll leave. This is a little bit different in that if I did leave and I happened to see on the news that someone was seriously injured or killed here, then I'd feel pretty bad about that," Mr Martin told the ABC

Most blamed a company culture under AWAs, the Howard Government's individual employment agreements, which have been spread to 80per cent of BHP's iron ore workforce.

Tony Maher, National President of the CFMEU said: "At Mount Newman, they are dominated by AWAs, people don't have the protection of a union, they're not able to speak up on safety concerns. What's happening is the management are ruin ruling by fear. They're intimidating people, daring them not to raise safety issues."

The petition says employees have been continually "looking over their shoulders" and fear harsh treatment by management. It says those who complain about safety are considered obstructionist and resistant to change, not champions of higher standards.

BHP's Ian Ashby said he was disappointed if employees felt they could not report safety incidents because of feared repercussions. He encouraged employees to report safety concerns directly to him.

Excavator Operator, Aaron Greenhalgh, believes that AWA workers are not reporting incidents. "These are blokes that are coming back to these wind rows and breaching it, tipping the tyres through and tipping loads and carrying on. That's a near miss, that's a potential, that truck could be going over. Apart from that, they're driving off and the next bloke comes along and he could be falling in that same hole..."

Allen Zadow, another AWA employee recently quit as foreman over his treatment in reporting a safety hazard that hadn't been fixed. "A lot of mine incidents aren't reported, full stop. Just ignored," he told the ABC.

After he filed a report on his computer, Mr Zadow was called into the manager's office and asked to explain himself. "It wasn't a very pleasant experience. I mean, I went into a meeting with five other people, me being the outsider and having five different people, all superintendent above, trying to intimidate me..."

The Federal Government says it has referred the matter to its workplace watchdog. Issues of health and safety are looked after at a state level. WA Employment Protection Minister Michelle Roberts says she is concerned by the claims and an investigation is under way to see if they can be substantiated.

ACTU secretary and federal Labor candidate Greg Combet said it was clear AWAs were the cause of the safety worries. "The trouble with the AWAs is that it leaves people one out on their own up against an international mining company and when it comes to a safety issue people one out on their own can't deal with it, feel intimidated," he said. "It underlines the importance of people being able to join together to collectively bargain because that's the only way you can have a say about something as important as safety.

"And it also underlines the importance of the freedom for people to be represented by a union, if that's what they want," he said in The West.

The CFMEU says recent ABS data (6306, Feb 2007) underlines that Australian mining does NOT rely on AWAs – just 31% of workers in metal ore mines, and only 16% of the mining industry’s workforce are on AWAs. Mining relies more on common law contracts (as provided for in ALP policy) rather than on AWAs. About 55% of metal ore miners are on common law contracts.

730 Report
ABC News
The Australian
The West

ALCOA Poison: Wagerup alumina refinery emissions affect nearby communities

June 11, 2007: WA community worried about ALCOA refinery emissions

Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation says residents near the Wagerup alumina refinery, south of Perth, should not be concerned by a new report which finds some emissions may be affecting nearby communities.

Tests by a new radar system have found emissions from the refinery may extend for up to five kilometres under certain weather conditions, travelling very low to the ground. Alcoa was also charged recently with discharging caustic material into the environment in July 2005. In November last year, air quality sampling near Alcoa's Wagerup refinery found low levels of a range of chemical compounds.

John Sutton from the department's Air Quality Management Branch says previous tests on emissions have found volatile compounds. He says the community should not be concerned. "These events have been going on presumably for many years," he said.

But a lobby group fighting the expansion of the refinery says it is disenchanted with the findings. Gary Murrihiy from the Yarloop and Districts Concerned Residents Group says the report verifies what the community has been saying.

"People haven't imagined that they would be affected by it, it's actually happened," he said. "Finally science is proving that what happened. It's not news to us, we knew it from day one."

In November 2006 chairman of the Yarloop and Districts Concerned Residents Committee, Tony Hall, said the results do not put his mind at ease because the samples were analysed in laboratories overseas. "Those chemicals have a half life so the longer it takes the less of the sample is actually in the canister," he said. "That's an issue that we've raised with them and asked them to address but so far, as far as we know, they haven't"


Some more indy stories on this issue

Alcoa - the toxic bubble of Yarloop: ALCOA - the poisoning of Yarloop people. "It’s like living in a toxic bubble." Residents in the small community of SW town of Yarloop are becoming increasingly frustrated. Bauxite mining and alumina refining based on the world's only jarrah forest should never have been allowed. Now another major expansion is on the way... Read story

Doctors say Alcoa is a threat to Western Australian public health: The Sunday Times reports that despite a submission by doctors that local residents have suffered "acute and chronic adverse health consequences" from the plant's chemical emissions, chemical giant ALCOA intends to double the production at its Wagerup refinery. If Alcoa's plans go ahead the Wagerup plant will be the world's biggest alumina refinery. Local residents and health officials are concerned if the project is allowed to go ahead. Many locals have already been driven out by the smell, noise, caustic red mud dust and emissions containing a chemical cocktail of 261 compounds... Read story

Production and Profits More Important Than Health - Despite wide expert acknowledgement of severe ongoing health affects from the Alumina Company of America's (Alcoa)Wagerup Refinery production has increased from 2.35 mtpa (million tonne per annum)to 2.5 mtpa... Read story

FEATURE: Alcoa records eighth refinery spill in 5 months: According to an ABC Report the global alumina giant ALCOA has reported its eighth waste spill at its WA Kwinana alumina refinery in the past five months. The latest incident, last Wednesday, involved an overflow of 600-litres of process liquor in the BAUXITE unloading area of the refinery... Read Story

Alcoa may be fined over pollution: Alumina giant Alcoa could be fined up to a half a million dollars after admitting its Wagerup refinery, south of Perth, caused pollution... Read story

Another Another Another spill at Alcoa refinery: On October 13, Alcoa was charged with the unauthorised discharge of a prohibited substance. This followed a toxic spill that released between 300,000 and 1.3 million litres of caustic soda at its Alumina refinery at Kwinana, south of Perth, on June 22 and 23. A total of seven spills have occurred at the refinery since June. The most recent took place on October 12 and involved the release of 15,000 litres. Alcoa is facing charges for each of the spills, but will be required to pay maximum fines of just $5000 per offence... Read Story

ABC Nov 06

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Massive Anvil Hill coal mine approved by NSW Government

June 7, 2007: Despite ongoing community protests, the NSW Government has approved the controversial Anvil Hill coal mine development in the Hunter Valley.

NSW Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, says he made the decision after 10 months of assessment. He says the total value of the coal reserve at the site is estimated to be about $9 billion. "It was time to resolve the issues and give certainty to land owners and other potentially affected by the mine," said Mr Sartor. But environmentalists say the decision shows that the coal industry is in the climate change policy driving seat...

The Anvil Hill coal mine at Wybong, about 20km west of Muswellbrook, is expected to produce up to 10.5 million tonnes of coal a year over 21 years for the domestic and export markets. It will have a capital investment of about $240 million and will support about 250 construction jobs and about 240 operational jobs.

Minister Sartor says 84 "strict conditions" had been imposed on the mine to deal with dust and noise issues.

Rising Tide Newcastle say the area is home to at least 178 animal species, including 4 threatened bat species, the squirrel glider, the koala, 14 threatened bird species and many more protected under international covenant. It is also home to at least 420 species of native flora, many of which are threatened and 3 of which are endemic to the area, including one newly discovered species of orchid found only at this site.

"This mine would have massive impacts on threatened species in the Hunter Valley, destroying one of the largest tracts of bushland remaining in the region," say RisingTide. "It would destroy a large area of water catchment for the already stressed Hunter River. The 10 million tonnes of coal from Anvil Hill will wreak irreparable damage on the global climate, tipping the planet further towards dangerous, runaway climate change. In the face of such massive impacts, the Iemma government still couldn't find the guts to say no to the coal lobby."

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the decision is a disaster and shows the NSW Government is not serious about climate change. "The Anvil Hill coal mine will add enormously to the climate change burden," he said. "Today's decision is a sell-out, not just of proper measures to deal with climate change, but is also of the Hunter community."

Senator Kerry Nettle also condemned the federal and state governments for the decision to approve the giant Anvil Hill coal mine. "The federal government is responsible for this mine as much as the state Labor government. The federal Environment Minister failed to even assess the impact on climate change of this mine," said Senator Nettle.

"The federal government and federal Labor support the expansion of the coal industry. Neither can be taken seriously on climate change if they agree to the expansion of the coal mining industry. The approval highlights the shocking inadequacy of the federal government and federal Labor climate change policies. You can't reduce greenhouse gas emissions by supporting a new coal mine that will produce 27 million tonnes of CO2 each year. The approval of this massive coal mine shows both Labor and Liberal's polices on climate change are worthless."

The approval of the new coal mine is sparking outrage. Greenpeace head of campaigns Stephen Campbell said: "The planning process is a farce. The Department of Planning has ignored advice on the environmental and climate impacts of this mine and ‘rubber stamped’ it... This is an absolute disaster for Hunter communities and for the climate."

About 500 environmentalists protested at the site last weekend, standing in formation to spell out Save Anvil Hill. The protest against the Hunter Valley coal mine has shown people from all walks of life, and not just "environmental jihadists", are worried about climate change.

Greenpeace campaign manager Stephen Campbell said about 500 people made the journey from around the state to show their commitment to dealing with climate change and opposition to new coal mines. "You've got people you'd expect to see at protests, like students and the Greens, but there's other people here who are associated with the mining industry, people who are associated with the horse and wine industry - not the kind of people who normally come to a rally such as this and they came today."

Mr Campbell said such diverse community representation demonstrated how deep and widespread concern about the expansion of the coal industry was. "The coal industry, the Labor party and others try to portray anyone who is opposed to the coal industry as some sort of mad man or environmental jihadist, and what we're showing is that is simply not the case," he said. "People from all over NSW are very concerned about the expansion of the coal industry, they're concerned about the local, social and environmental impacts.

Greenpeace spokesman Ben Pearson said: "People have had enough of new coal mines," Mr Pearson said. "They're ripping up the Hunter Valley. They're contributing to climate change. We know how great the threat of climate change is, but frankly if we're serious about climate change how can we justify opening massive new coal mines?"

NQ Register
Daily Telegraph
Sydney Morning Herald
Rising Tide
Peace Bus
Rising Tide: Media Release

Warning: A barrage of Howard bullshit on Climate Change

June 7, 2007 - Australians are being warned to prepare for a "barrage of lies" from the Howard Government on climate change in the lead-up to the Federal election. Last night Treasurer Peter Costello deliberately misinformed television viewers in an attempt to claim credit for stopping landclearing in Australia as a practical measure to reduce greenhouse emissions, when it was an initiative of the climate action campaigners and the Beattie Government who did the work.

Yet, when a team of German researchers asked hundreds of experts around the world to score industrialised countries according to their commitment to tackle climate change, Australia ranked second last, with only the US doing worse...

Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne says: "This lie is offensive in the extreme to the many campaigners and the Queensland Government who worked hard to slow landclearing in order to protect Australia's biodiversity well before the election of the Howard Government."

"The Howard Government took advantage of other people's great work to negotiate an easy target at Kyoto. But their wilful negligence in the years since then has seen ongoing old growth logging, ongoing landclearing, and unrestricted growth in emissions from energy, all dwarfing the landclearing gains and putting our Kyoto targets out of reach," Senator Milne said in a media release today.

"Treasurer Costello's lie follows the Prime Minister's outrageous lie that reducing Australia's emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 would require us to close down every power station in the country and take every car off the road," said Senator Milne. "The Howard Government is clearly desperate on climate change and is willing to do anything to neutralise the issue - except take real action. Prepare for a barrage of lies."

Labor's environment spokesman Peter Garrett has accused John Howard of being "all talk and no action" on climate change. Mr Garrett says Mr Howard is simply trying to prove he is a leader on climate change before this year's election... [He has] a set of convoluted ideas it seems, but without any real commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which is so sorely needed at this point in time," he said.

"This speech is all about Mr Howard positioning himself [before] the election as someone who can take an active leadership role on climate change. I think this is more about the politics of the upcoming election than it is about a substantial attempt at reducing emissions worldwide," said Mr Garrett.

Propaganda often works through "fabrications so audacious that it is hard to know how to respond," argues Clive Hamilton - executive director of the Australia Institute, and author of Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change. This technique has been adopted by the federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in his frequent claim that Australia is "leading the world" in the response to the climate crisis.

Clive Hamilton writes that since the Howard Government came to power, Australia's emissions have increased by 19 per cent, a growth rate more than double the average of all other industrialised countries. Hamilton says the Government expects them to grow by another 25 per cent by 2020. This is at a time when the world's climate scientists say we must reduce our emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

"When deploying the "big-lie technique" there are rules to be followed: be audacious; never admit fault; never accept the possibility of alternatives; and repeat the falsehood so often that people end up accepting it as truth," writes Clive Hamilton in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Government has repeatedly displaced responsibility from itself, first by fingering developing countries as being "exempted" from Kyoto (itself a lie, as almost all developing counties have ratified the treaty).

Most recently, the bizarre policy of allocating $200 million to reduce logging in the Third World is another attempt to shift responsibility from the need to reduce fossil emissions at home. Australia, which along with the United States has refused to be part of the Kyoto initiative, announced in April that it would put up $200 million to keep tropical tree cover in Indonesia.

The science behind that assertion is published in the journal Science co-authored by Pep Canadell from the government's CSIRO research body. Canadell worked with colleagues in the US, Britain, Brazil and France to show the benefits of keeping forests as carbon sinks. They found forests do not release carbon back into atmosphere as some have suggested. Canadell estimated deforestation accounts for 20 per cent of the carbon emissions attributed to human activity.

More recently the Howard Government has shifted the blame to China, stating there is no point acting if China "pollutes the environment to its heart's content", in the words of Alexander Downer. Ten years lost in the battle against Climate Change will translate into enormous additional human misery later this century, says Clive Hamilton.

It seems John Howard's task group on climate change is still playing for time, writes Tim Colebatch in The Age. The task group report, written by business and departmental chiefs led by the secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Peter Shergold, set out the kind of emissions trading scheme it (and the prime minister) wants to see. The report was silent on the size of emissions cuts needed, and the carbon prices required, saying that should wait for more modelling.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the Howard Government has the cool heads and steady hands to ensure our response is both environmentally effective and economically responsible. Turnbull says in a opinion piece for The Age newspaper: "Deforestation is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after electricity generation. If we were only to halve the rate of deforestation we would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent."

Meanwhile, it seems the world has more than enough sustainable energy and technology to curb climate change, but only if key decisions are made within the next five years, according to new research by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The world has never been more aware of climate change, or the urgent need to slow its advance," said James Leape, WWF International's Director General. "The question for leaders and governments everywhere is how to rein in dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide emissions without stunting development and reducing living standards."

"The Climate Solutions report shows not only that this can be done, it shows how we can do it. We have a small window of time in which we can plant the seeds of change, and that is the next five years. We cannot afford to waste them."

These lies will end in our misery - Clive Hamilton SMH
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Fuck off Pell - Go to hell!

June 7, 2007: It is against the law to coerce a member of parliament! Sydney's Catholic Archbishop George Pell is under attack after interferring in a New South Wales parliamentary vote. He's also been likened to outspoken Mufti, Sheikh Taj El Din Al Hilali. Cardinal Pell warned MPs that if they voted to allow therapeutic cloning there would be consequences for their life in the Church...

Cardinal Pell has urged all members of the NSW parliament to vote against the bill that would scrap the current ban on stem cell research, also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown is warning Archbishop Pell against threatening federal members of parliament.

"Cardinal Pell's threats that there would be religious 'consequences' for Catholic MPs who voted for the stem cell legislation are completely unacceptable," Senator Brown said.

"Attempting to coerce Catholic members of the NSW state parliament is a serious matter. Cardinal Pell should understand that it could be a criminal matter if similar remarks were used to coerce federal politicians," said Senator Brown.

The Criminal Code Act 1995 provides a penalty of up to 12 years imprisonment for threatening commonwealth public officials and for both the giver and receiver of inducements for commonwealth public officials (including federal politicians) to change their behaviour.

"I urge Cardinal Pell to refrain from bullying Catholic MPs with religious 'consequences' when the Senate votes on my voluntary euthanasia bill, or any other matter of conscience," Senator Brown said.

NSW Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner feels very strongly about the importance of separation of Church and State. She says Members of Parliament should be able to make up their mind according to their conscience. Liberal Frontbencher Chris Hartcher says the Cardinal's comments are unambiguous and he's critical of practising Catholics dipping in and out of the Church.

Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees today called Cardinal Pell a hypocrite, saying a politician would not interfere with the teachings of the church in exchange for funding. He said the cardinal was out of step and owed Catholic MPs an apology. Mr Rees says he considers Cardinal Pell's incursion a "clear and arguably contemptuous incursion into the deliberations of the elected members of this Parliament. And I think he's got three options; he can apologise, he can run for Parliament; or he can invite further comparisons with that serial boofhead Sheikh Hilali," said Mr Rees.

Sheik Alhilali's friend and confidant Keysar Trad said it was a "disgrace" the mufti had been dragged into the debate on stem cell research. The mufti was shocked at the insult and thought it showed great disrespect to Mr Rees' electorate of Toongabbie, he said. "Muslims are sick of being used as an example of ridicule. It is shameful," he said.

"I would like to see the premier show leadership on this issue and come out strongly condemning these remarks and to discipline this person. If he's (Rees) big enough then I would expect to see him at the mufti's office delivering an apology in person over the next few days."

"Oddly enough, if he was to research the mufti's opinion on this issue, he might be pleasantly surprised," Mr Trad said. "His fatwa (ruling) on this is that if it is for scientific research and does not risk the life of another human being and does not harm another living thing then it's fine."

George Pell's suggestion to in some way exclude Catholic politicians who vote for the legislation is nothing short of reprehensible, says Dom Knight. "It is fundamentally undemocratic for elected representatives to make judgements of this nature on the basis of their individual religious beliefs, rather than the position of the voters that elected them and the broader society that they represent," said Mr Knoght on his SMH blog. "If he wants to live in a state that's run according to his church's principles, I would strongly encourage him to move to the Vatican City."

NSW Labor MP Tony Stewart said he would risk his shot at the afterlife before he voted against the Bill. "Maybe I'll go to hell but if I go to hell I'm going to do so by saving a lot of lives, because that's what this Bill is about," the Catholic MP said. Mr Stewart said Cardinal Pell was entitled to his views but should keep out of politics saying the bill will make a difference to people with life-threatening diseases. "We don't need a religious leader telling members of parliament what should be done," he said.

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey also object to the Cardinal's threat. Mr Hockey, also a Catholic, said Cardinal Pell should use his position to educate Catholics, not threaten them. "I don't object to him expressing that opinion, but I do object to any suggestion that there are consequences," Mr Hockey said.

The Bill would bring NSW into line with the Commonwealth, which has already approved therapeutic cloning. The bill is currently being debated in the Legislative Assembly, with a conscience vote now expected later this week.

Cardinal Pell refused to say whether Catholic MPs would be excommunicated from the church if they voted in favour of the legislation. The church would deal with that issue if it arose, he said.

"Cloning is not quite the same as abortion and the legislation for such a thing as cloning is different from actually performing cloning," Cardinal Pell told reporters. "But it is a serious moral matter and Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church." Cardinal Pell said the legislation had been rushed into parliament, with the public and MPs given little or no information about the issue.

Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey also came under fire after saying Catholics who did not condemn the cloning of human embryos for medical research were acting against the teachings of the Catholic faith and may face excommunication.

Prime Minister John Howard says he did not believe either man was trying to direct MPs on political matters. "I think that Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hickey are both church leaders, they are entitled to express their views and I respect both of them."


UPDATE: The Stem cell research legislation passed its first stages in NSW Parliament with MPs exercising their conscience vote this morning. On Thurday the MPs voted 65 to 26 for the Bill to overturn a ban on therapeutic cloning.
The Bill is not expected to be finally passed until the next sitting of Parliament in a week’s time.


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