Over the past few months, refugees who were once deemed by ASIO to be a threat to national security have been gradually released from indefinite detention. It appears that one of Australia's most internationally criticised immigration detention policies is being quietly abandoned. The most high-profile victims of this policy, Ranjini and her son, who was born in detention and had never known a day of freedom, were released on November 13.
The federal government has now spent $1.22 billion on its “Direct Action” policy that is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but will actually allow them to increase. The results of the government's second round of emissions reverse auctions under the Direct Action scheme were released on November 12, revealing that the Clean Energy Regulator had paid $557 million to companies in return for emissions cuts of 45 million tonnes of CO₂. The first auction, in April this year, spent $660 million to buy 47.3 million tonnes.
While the whole globe — from polar regions to the equator — has experienced record-breaking high temperatures, a small part of the Earth has experienced the opposite. Scientists say both are indications of the dangerous affects of climate change. In September, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest ever recorded in the 135 years since records have been kept.
The Papua New Guinean police has called for the extradition of two Australians implicated in the murder of asylum seeker Reza Berati at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre. But there is no sign that the two will return to face justice. The call comes as the trial of the two Papua New Guineans charged with his wilful murder is listed to begin in Lorengau, the largest town on Manus Island.
Pressure from activists for super funds to divest from Transfield Services, the biggest contractor in the Australian immigration detention industry, is increasingly bearing fruit. HESTA, the industry superannuation fund for health and community services workers — at $32 billion one of Australia’s largest super funds — sold its 3.5% stake, worth $23 million, in Transfield Services on August 18. On August 25 NGS Super, the industry superannuation fund for private school teachers, announced it would sell its $5.5 million stake in Transfield “on moral grounds”.
World famous climate scientist James Hansen, known as the “father of global warming” for being the first to see the threat of catastrophic climate change in 1988, has issued a new warning. Sea level changes are likely to be much higher, less stable and happen much sooner than previous predictions.
The ABC has revealed that a report prepared for the Queensland government says that hundreds of square kilometres of prime agricultural land are at risk from an experimental plant operated by mining company Linc Energy. Queensland’s environment department alleges that the Linc plant at Chinchilla is responsible for the toxic chemicals and explosive gases that have caused “irreversible” damage to valuable Darling Downs farming land.
Forest conservation groups have demanded that the New South Wales government immediately halt logging operations in state forest areas known to be koala habitat. They fear that proposals by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to allow clear felling of large areas of forests on the NSW north coast could be the catalyst that tips the area's koalas onto the path to extinction.
Australia’s human rights reputation has been savaged in a new report by Amnesty International. The report is highly critical of Australia’s detention of Aboriginal children for minor offences. The Amnesty report, A brighter tomorrow: Keeping Indigenous kids in the community and out of detention in Australia, focuses on the crisis of Aboriginal child detention. The report says rates of Aboriginal youth detention are higher now than they were 20 years ago.
Australia’s most popular children’s author, Mem Fox, has criticised the federal government’s unfair funding of private schools. Fox was addressing an audience of public school educators at the National Press Club. She said the "confidence trick" of private schools marketing was being revealed, but governments persisted with unfair funding models. "The federal government spends two-thirds of its school education dollars on the one-third of students in Australia who go to private schools,” she said. “Where is our national sense of shame at that statistic?