Wednesday, 17th April 2013


The Immigration Department has delivered a scathing assessment of its own detention facility on Manus Island. In an unusual submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it listed unreliable and unsafe power, tents degrading in the humidity, limited potable water and the lack of protection from the elements as issues that could lead to substantial increases in physical and mental health problems, not to mention increased security costs. Even the centre's basic function – processing asylum seekers' claims – is compromised.

Meanwhile, in Broadmeadows, a hunger strike by 27 asylum seekers stretches into its second week. These men have all been found to be refugees, but are still in detention after 3 years due to adverse security assessments which are secret and not subject to any appeal process.

This week, Julia Gillard announced that Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his own life in World War II to save thousands of Hungarian Jewish refugees by issuing them Swedish travel papers, will be made an honorary Australian citizen. She said that Australia was "honored to have survivors he rescued living in Australia today." Tony Abbott supported the decision.

"What is so striking about Wallenberg's humanity," writes Michael Gawenda, "is that he was able, he was compelled perhaps, to risk his life to save ‘the stranger’, people with whom he had next to nothing in common."

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Nick Feik
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Immigration Criticises Own Manus Asylum Centre

“The Immigration Department has delivered a scathing assessment of its own temporary accommodation for asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, saying the living arrangements are cramped and present ‘key risks in terms of safety and health’.”
Also: Sri Lankans’ Fate To Be Known Soon – Bianca Hall (The Age)

Strangers And Fiction: Canberra’s Double Face

“Sometimes something happens that is relatively small beer in terms of news coverage, but it needs to be examined ... Raoul Wallenberg will become an honorary Australian citizen in a couple of weeks’ time. Nothing about the way this government or the opposition treats asylum seeks suggests that Wallenberg’s legacy has affected Gillard or Abbott in any consequential way.”

Independents To Back Reform Despite Uni Cuts

“Key federal independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have signalled they can live with the university funding cuts the government has outlined to pay for its landmark school reforms.”

One Nation Co-Founder Sues Abbott For $1.5m

“David Ettridge is suing for $1.5 million, accusing Mr Abbott of acting unlawfully in 1998 by assisting and encouraging litigation against One Nation that led to the party being deregistered.”

Political Thriller Be Damned, Bowen’s Going To Save Labor Instead

Chris Bowen’s publishers, you’d imagine, are hoping he can write better than he can count. Finding himself with unexpected time on his hands over the past weeks, Bowen has been busily scribbling a book. Rich material there. A ready-made plot.”
Also: Kill Poor To Fix Budget, Writes Lobbyist With Liberal Links – Heath Aston (The Age)