Useful Links

I’ve updated my ‘Links’ page today after going down the research rabbit hole in search of the 2009 Goldman Report – the UN inquiry into the 2008/9 Israeli assault on Gaza.

Try Googling ‘The Goldman Report’ and finding the document online and you may find a lot of dead links, error messages such as “HTTP Error 404.0 – Not Found
The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.”,
and pro-Israel propaganda. Or maybe that’s just me?

I was sure I would easily find a direct link by searching the website but even that required some digging. *Note* I have not confirmed that the document I’ve linked to is an unaltered version of the original report as yet.

A Bird in the Hand

Parliamentary Library – Elections and electoral systems: a quick guide to key internet links.

ComLaw – Commonwealth Law, Australia

Download ‘Fracking the Future’ from the Australia Institute website. The purpose of this paper is to bust the gas industry’s myths about coal seam gas (CSG)

Guardian article from 2011 on The Goldman Report, which was a document produced from the UN inquiry into alleged war crimes during the 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone.

 Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (The Goldman Report)

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The High Cost of Homelessness

Francis Lynch, CEO of Ruah consistently makes sense especially on the topic of homelessness.  Years of experience, and listening to the consistent stories as the affordable housing crisis is magnified by social security cuts, and underfunded mental health programs gives a hearty truth punch to his words.

The High Cost of Homelessness.

Racist Policy Makers Come Up Against UN in Oz

Yesterday our PM graciously took all credit for the decision to stop the repeal of Section 18 (c) of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.  He’s yet to offer an explanation as to how his leadership of the LNP hadn’t entitled him to overrule it’s serious consideration in the previous eight months, however I’m confident that’s coming. I look forward to seeing which cabinet member gets thrown under the bus ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ style in the next elimination episode.

Our Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson tweeted how disappointed he was that it will still be illegal to intimidate and offend people with racist slurs.  Apparently it’s not compatible with free speech.  I’ll tell you what Tim.  If it was really legal to speak completely freely you, and a goodly sized portion of the current LNP cabinet members might have some very “hurt feelings” at the expense of my (dwindling and quite frankly baseless) reputation as a lady.

The United Nations has long been aware of the potential conflict between the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and the “right to be a bigot”. It was after all one of the reservations registered by the United States of America when it ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the good people at the UN have been savvy enough to closely examine any potential conflicts with the Declaration and it’s various instruments, and produce guidelines in order to assuage any confusion.  You can download the recommendations here.

Australia signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on 13th October 1966, and ratified it on 30th September 1975. The full text of the Convention can be found here.

Australia did lodge what is called a ‘reservation’ (which by the rules of the convention was lodged at the time of ratification – ie: 1975) which stated:

“The Government of Australia … declares that Australia is not at present in a position specifically to treat as offences all the matters covered by article 4 (a) of the Convention. Acts of the kind there mentioned are punishable only to the extent provided by the existing criminal law dealing with such matters as the maintenance of public order, public mischief, assault, riot, criminal libel, conspiracy and attempts. It is the intention of the Australian Government, at the first suitable moment, to seek from Parliament legislation specifically implementing the terms of article 4 (a).”

The Racial Discrimination Act was passed into Australian law in June 1975 however, and in conjunction with subsequent adjustments to the law dispensed with the need for the reservation to 4 (a), that being;
“Article 4
States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:
(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;”

The Australian Human Rights Commission website attempts to imply that Australia is not bound by the Convention because of this reservation. Given the political position of our Human Rights ‘Freedom’ Commissioner Tim Wilson, an ex Liberal Party member and current director of the Institute of Public Affairs, who has been widely touted as the source of the proposed repeal of Section 18 c) of the Racial Discrimination Act, I suspect this is a tactic used to discourage people from exercising their rights.

On 28th January 1993 Australia declared their recognition of the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in accordance with article 14 of the Convention;
“The Government of Australia hereby declares that it recognises, for and on behalf of Australia, the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals within its jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation by Australia of any of the rights set forth in the aforesaid Convention.”

This places individual citizens affected by racism and racist policy in Australia in an enviable position as this means we are able to make submissions directly to the United Nations Human Rights Council provided it meets the following criteria:

• It is not manifestly politically motivated and its object is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other applicable instruments in the field of human rights law;
• It gives a factual description of the alleged violations, including the rights which are alleged to be violated;
• Its language is not abusive. However, such a communication may be considered if it meets the other criteria for admissibility after deletion of the abusive language;
• It is submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be the victims of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, or by any person or group of persons, including non governmental organizations, acting in good faith in accordance with the principles of human rights, not resorting to politically motivated stands contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and claiming to have direct and reliable knowledge of the violations concerned. Nonetheless, reliably attested communications shall not be inadmissible solely because the knowledge of the individual authors is second-hand, provided that they are accompanied by clear evidence;
• It is not exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media;
• It does not refer to a case that appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights already being dealt with by a special procedure, a treaty body or other United Nations or similar regional complaints procedure in the field of human rights;
• Domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged.
The 85th Session of CERD – International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is taking place from 11th – 29th August 2014, with further sessions scheduled at the beginning and midyear thereafter.

I believe the criteria for complaint would be met in several contentious areas of current federal and state policy, for instance the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act in Western Australia, and the Northern Territory Intervention. I would urge all affected peoples, and authorised third parties to fill out the official complaint procedure form and forward it to the UN Human Rights Council.

Communications intended for handling under the Human Rights Council complaint procedure may be addressed to:

Complaint Procedure Unit
Human Rights Council Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11

Australian Greens Model Millionaire Taxes for Tony Abbott

Originally published at

Taxing trusts as if they were companies, and applying a new top marginal tax rate on incomes over $1 million, would raise billions of dollars for the Commonwealth budget and alleviate pressure to slash welfare programs for the genuinely needy, the Greens have said.

The country’s third political force has commissioned an updated independent costing of the two proposals originally put forward by the Parliamentary Budget Office, as an alternative to a raft of harsh spending cuts being considered by the Abbott government.

The move has been calculated to illustrate the ways that Australia’s rich and poor are being cast in the Abbott government’s narrative of a budget emergency.

These measures have yet to be announced but speculation is rife in Canberra that the first Hockey budget could contain decisions to tighten eligibility for the age pension, make GP visits more expensive through the application of a co-payment by patients of $6, and even see a crackdown on eligibility for the Disability Support Pension.

The PBO modelling found the move to scrap the generous taxation treatment of discretionary trusts, of which there are some 550,000 in operation at present, would raise some $3.3 billion over the four-year budget period from July 1, this year.

However it acknowledged in its costing documents, obtained by Fairfax Media, that its modelling was “considered to be of low reliability” due to a series of inherently uncertain assumptions about future behaviour.

This could include individuals abandoning trusts and using other measures if the taxation arrangements were no longer regarded as sufficiently attractive.

Another almost $1 billion would be gained in revenue by the addition of a 5 per cent super-rich tax on the tiny minority of people with incomes over $1 million – defined as taxable income plus reportable fringe benefits.

The PBO modelling provided to the Greens party shows this proposal has been costed as adding $926.6 million to the underlying fiscal balance over the four budget years from July 1, 2014.

The tax take from this measure would gradually increase through bracket-creep expanding its eligibility and thus causing it to reap $339.7 million in the final year, 2017-18.

Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt said it was unacceptable for the government to be shaping up for a major hit on the vulnerable, while the well-off were allowed to structure their affairs to minimise tax, depriving the budget of much needed revenue.

“The wealthy elite should take a haircut, not those who rely on bulk-billing to see a doctor,” Mr Bandt said, declaring that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was “backed by society’s ‘1%’”.

“If Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott let their millionaire friends off scot-free while attacking pensions and essential services, they will have declared ‘class war’ on the country and divided Australia,” he said.

“If the ‘age of entitlement’ is over, as Joe Hockey says, he should start at the top. Joe Hockey should balance the budget fairly by implementing these independent costings provided by the Greens,” Mr Bandt said.

The combined effect on revenue of the two measures would be close to $4.3 billion over four years with the potential to raise more beyond the budget period.

Trusts run by farmers would be exempt from the Greens’ changes.

But the ideas are unlikely to find favour with either of the major parties – neither of whom want to be associated with implementing new taxes.

Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home

I’ve found that money the Aboriginal Legal Fund needs.

The Australian Independent Media Network

howard In 1996 John Howard became the first Prime Minister to make Kirribilli House in Sydney his prime residence. Over the next 12 years, this decision cost the taxpayers $18.4 million in flights between Canberra and Sydney.

According to the Department of Defence’s Schedule of Special Purpose Flights for the second half of 2002, Howard ordered 43 flights between Sydney and Canberra. Ten of those flights flew empty between Canberra and Sydney. Each flight cost $7500.

The RAAF’s No. 34 Squadron operated the VIP fleet of five aircraft, which, in those days, cost $60 million a year to run. The lease on the current RAAF fleet of two Boeing 737 business jets and three smaller Challenger 604 aircraft cost $600 million and will expire this year when Tony Abbott intends to opt for bigger and better planes.

Last week, a ‘reluctant’ Tony Abbott became the second Prime Minister to opt for…

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The Elephant in the Room

Try as I might to steel myself against dismay at the encouragement that prejudice, and xenophobia receives at a government level I find I do slip into temporary malaise more frequently these days.

I’m advanced enough in years to remember venturing out with my friends with buckets of soapy water to scrub Jack van Tongeren’s racist ‘Asians Out’ posters off bus stop shelters, and walls and the enormous community support that was given the Vietnamese ‘boat people’. Television stations, and newspapers (even the West Australian!) were keen to publish our efforts, and most of the so called ‘bleeding hearts’ I knew were Christians. How drastically things can change in 25 years.

Now refugees are burdened with a double dose of suspicion built on secrecy and disinformation, and the pre-existing bias and fear of association with mental illness. It’s no mistake hard right-wing proponents label anyone with compassionate leanings ‘the loony left’. Dismissing the ideas, needs, and desires of an individual or group by inferring mental ill health, or moral depravity where the code is defined by them alone has been a stock in trade tool used by manipulators of public opinion to declare compassionate action, and disregard for oppressive rules that make no sense for years.

Kings have been dethroned for it such as Ludwig II of Bavaria. The psychiatrist employed by his power hungry family, Bernhard von Gudden, declared him to be mad because, amongst other things, he preferred to dine outside in all manner of weather. He did not meet with King Ludwig during the evaluation, nor did he attempt to interview impartial sources. Such is the power of using even the suggestion of mental ill health as an instrument of fear and exclusion.

Educating the public that mental ill health can be instigated by traumatic experience, and that this trauma can be visited on anyone in small but significant increments of progressive disempowerment and hopelessness is a tall order. The average Australian who has no experience of the loss of liberty, and the shame visited on these people through unreasonably harsh conditions, and control overreach of the lives of incarcerated refugees can have little hope of seeing it as a big deal or understanding the consequences.

I implore all those who know differently to let your voice be heard.

3000 ways to end Homelessness in Australia!

Francis Lynch is the CEO at Ruah, which is a community services group delivering effective, compassionate, and informed services to the vulnerable people of Perth Western Australia.  I’ve personally visited many of their core service delivery groups and I guarantee they know their stuff.

Reading his blog articles gives you the knowledge of the people working on the front line, in the trenches of the rising social problems being exacerbated by ever tightening budgets due to government cuts to funding and social security payments, and ever expanding costs.

Homelessness, and lack of affordable housing in WA are two of the biggest issues we have, that can be solved with strategic policy, and government and private sector funding.

Click on the link below to have a read.

3000 ways to end Homelessness in Australia!.