Peter Robson

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could have been a flagship policy that restored dignity to people with disabilities. Instead, ALP timidity and Coalition intransigence have left Australia with a woefully inadequate policy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced on July 25 that Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon would represent his case to fight extradition to Sweden, from where he fears he will be extradited to the United States. Garzon is known as a campaigning magistrate who pursues social justice cases. In 1998, Garzon was the investigating magistrate in the case where Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested. Pinochet died in 2006 before being convicted.
One hundred people joined a Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)-initiated protest against the proposed Muckaty nuclear waste dump on July 12 at Stokes Hill Wharf. MUA NT branch manager Thomas Mayor said wharfies would stand in solidarity with traditional owners who opposed the dump. The protest was held at Stokes Hill Wharf because waste would likely be shipped through the port if the waste dump goes ahead. Mayor said that the waste presented an unacceptable risk.
Breaking news:: Tamil refugee deported, disappears Australia’s two main parties are committed to a single “solution” for asylum seekers that flee to Australia by boat — offshore processing. The policy is inhumane, unjust and flouts international law. It will also fail to reduce the people that seek asylum here.
A poll released in May by the Israel Democracy Index has revealed most Israeli's hold deeply racist attitudes. The findings come in the wake of race riots and a crackdown on the rights of Palestinians. The poll found 52% of respondents agreed with interior minister Eli Yishai that Africans were “a cancer on the body” of Israel, the June 7 Times of Israel said. Yishai was quoted in the June 3 Maariv as saying most “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man”.
Since the deaths of asylum seekers when two boats headed to Australia capsized, parliament has been locked in a debate about how to “save lives”. But the “debate” is framed in such a way to ensure that more lives will be lost and more refugees victimised. ALP and Coalition MPs are pushing a policy of refugee “deterrence” designed to simply move refugees somewhere else. On June 22, a boat carrying about 200 refugees capsized on its way to Christmas Island. Another vessel capsized on June 28. So far, reports say at least 91 refugees have drowned and others are still missing.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott announced his vision for a “tougher” refugee policy on June 9. Among the plans are to refuse refugee status for those who have arrived in Australia by boat without documentation. He also said that an Abbott Coalition government would appeal immigration department decisions to grant refugee status to boat arrivals. Abbott said: “What is happening now is that 90% of people who arrive illegally via boat are given successful outcomes.”
“One spill could kill our country” Muckaty traditional owner Penny Phillips told 100 people at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on May 30. The meeting was organised by Anti-Nuclear NT to condemn legislation passed by the federal government on March 13 that names Muckaty station, 200km north of Tennant Creek as the site for a proposed nuclear waste dump. The meeting was opened by Larrakeyah woman Donna Jackson whose traditional lands cover the East Arm Wharf, which is one area the waste could be taken through to get to the Muckaty site.
Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson released a report on May 14 into Australia’s gas reserves. The report signalled a huge expansion of gas mining in the NT and bad news for the environment. Two new areas have been opened for gas exploration: shale gas exploration in the central NT, and conventional offshore gas exploration north-west of Darwin. Both of these present serious environmental problems. The shale gas industry relies on capturing gas by pumping sand, water and chemicals into the ground — a process commonly known as fracking.
New legislation introduced by the federal Labor government will entrench many aspects of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, the NT intervention, for 10 years. The Senate Community Affairs References Committee released the findings of its inquiry into the Stronger Futures in the NT Bill and related legislation on March 13. It suggests some minor amendments, but leaves the substantive content of the bill unchallenged.


Subscribe to Peter Robson