Michael Burrill

Current Affairs: Citizenship, Nauru, IS, indigenous affairs and TPP

Image: AAP

Michael Burrill’s #currentaffairswrap, TBS’ weekly news wrap up: citizenship, Nauru, IS, indigenous affairs and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

 

Despite Labor initially expressing “tremendous concern”, Short William gave “in principle” support to proposed citizenship revocation powers this week, describing the move as a “sensible step”. In response to last week’s leak, which revealed cabinet tensions over the proposal, 44 backbenchers signed a letter which expressed support for the change and suggested the laws should target “not only dual nationals but those eligible for the citizenship of another country”. Tone fired up his tough messianic management stylings when addressing the leak, in a “come to Jesus moment” as he described it. The ministers involved showed they’d “seen the light” as they scrambled to protest their innocence and made noncommittal statements about “national conversations” and “bravado”. Whispers within the government suggest the leak “could have been from someone who backs the Prime Minister and wants to get momentum behind him”. So, for proposed legislation which one Law Professor, Greg Craven, characterised as “irredeemably unconstitutional”, the only real opposition seems to come from within the Government – opposition which is apparently being undermined by calculated leaking. Seems like this “vibrant democracy” is, as ever, in rude health…

Someone in less than rude health is an 11-year-old refugee living in Nauru, who may lose full function of his arm due to substandard medical care. Submissions to the Senate inquiry into the Nauru detention centre outlined a similar situation for those still in detention, with one woman unable to eat due to throat pain, with a shadow showing up on X-rays, left without treatment for three months. If that wasn’t enough, a former employee of security providers at the Nauru centre, Wilson Security, described a pattern of “deceptive conduct” and “corrupt management”, even accusing them of spying on Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young while she was on the island – allegations to which she responded, “A company contracted by the Australian Government, under scrutiny for its poor management of detention centres where women and children are abused, now spying on a senator of the Australian Parliament. Some very serious questions need to be answered”. Frankly it’s shocking! If you can’t trust a company which happily takes money to brutalise the vulnerable, just who can you trust in this topsy-turvy modern world?

Possibly feeling outdone by the mandatory detention system, IS has been filmed torturing a 14-year-old Syrian boy named Ahmed. They could at least be civilised enough out to outsource their child torture! In Iraq, IS suicide bombers attacked a police base (in US made Humvees inherited from the generous Iraqi army), while Acting Chief of Defence Ray Griggs informed a Senate estimates committee that despite a “setback” in IS overtaking Ramadi, overall, coalition forces were “doing alright”. Ex-Head of the CIA and former commander of international forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, David Patraeus, was similarly optimistic, saying “I do think Ramadi will be retaken in a matter of weeks or less”. He also called for an accompanying political effort in the fight against IS, to “bring the Sunni Arab population back into the fabric of Iraqi society,” a goal not really furthered by Shia militias battling IS in Anbar province, who were filmed burning a Sunni man alive. For all the outrage which greeted IS burning someone alive, a similar act by slightly more friendly forces goes largely unnoticed…

Thank god we’re more advanced in Australia, where most of the physical discrimination along ethnic lines is delivered by state organisations or contracted out to the private sector. In a perfect illustration of this, in the week after National Hollow Apology Day, an Amnesty International report highlighted alarming rates of indigenous youth imprisonment, which are at their highest levels in 24 years. Indigenous children were 26 times more likely to be in detention than their white counterparts in 2013-14. Similarly in the US, a country our politicians seem to view as a guiding conscience, police have apparently killed more than two people a day (385 total, which exceeds official figures) in the five months of this year so far, with black people found to have been killed at three times the rate of white people. Cheery reminders that the supposed moral tower, from which the West often peaks down smugly on the rest of the world, was largely built with slave labour and exploitation, a structure made of crumbling asbestos and blood money.

Lastly this week, MP’s were forced to sign a four-year confidentiality agreement in order to view the current text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade treaty currently being surreptitiously negotiated, which, along with Australia, will include US, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The TPP looks likely to include an “investor state dispute settlement mechanism”, which allows multinational corporations to legally challenge government policies. And other clauses may affect the price of medicines. If that wasn’t enough, WikiLeaks has revealed the existence of another trade agreement in clandestine formulation, the Trades in Services Agreement, which apparently aims for widespread financial deregulation on an international scale. It seems odd that protection of sovereignty is front and centre when it comes to asylum seekers or “national security”, yet barely seems to register a mention when secretively bargaining to cede more power to the financial sector and other corporate interests. Once again, Australia’s democracy seems to be in the rudest of health…

 

Related posts

2 Comments

  1. Dolly Dickerson said:

    Re Citizenship-
    Should we trust the government to destroy som,eone’s future?
    No, we totally shouldn’t!
    Last week on PM, there werer two guests who were rightly opposed to this move by Abort& Sons.
    It seems that if the topic of the Constitution is ever discuseed at all in a public forum, specific sections of it are never quoted. Here was no exception; the guests only that it would be “unconstitutional” for this or that reason.
    Prof. Kim Rubinstein of the Australian National University was a least specific enough to state that removal of citizenship violates the compact between the Commonwealth and the States and thereforte cuts into the very fabric of our political system.
    I was gratified to hear her opposition to these lawsand believe she is quite right, but disappointed that this was as specific as it got as far as referencing our legal system is concerned.
    The right to a trial by jury is enshrined in sn 80 of the Constitution Act:80.
    “Trial by jury The trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury, and every such trial shall be held in the State where the offence was committed, and if the offence was not committed within any State the trial shall be held at such place or places as the Parliament prescribes.”
    Could it be clearer?
    A trial-BY JURY,-no ministerial discetion nonsense!
    I also reject claims that the government has the right to pass criminal law with jurisdiction outside Australia.
    The current crop of jokers in Parliament would have you believe that the Constitution consists entirely of the Constitution Act-www.aph.gov.au/~/media/AC79BBA0B87A4906A6D71ACCEEF105.However, the Annotated Constitution contains this Act (often referred to as “The Constitution” but also huindreds of pages of commentary by two authors of our Constiutution, Justices Quick and Garran.Thes are considered by constitutional scholars and lawyers to be an indispensible reference to any debate about interpreting the Constitution Act.
    If the government claims it has the right to deprive people of citizenship or to prosecute people fopr travelling to prohibited areas, it is mistaken.
    Like all other extraterritorial laws that have been passed over the years, this one will be invalid. S51 (xxx) of our Constitution gives the Federal Govt. power over external affairs- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Australia . However, this does not include the right of the government. to lay charges on people for activities conducted overseas.
    The Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia(Quick and Garran) – https://archive.org/details/annotatedconstit00quicuoft -explains in s214, pp 631/32 ” External Affairs”, that “external affairs” only includes forbidding a State to establish its own embassy and things of a similar nature.
    .Like all other extraterritorial laws that have been passed over the years, this one will be invalid. S51 (xxx) of our Constitution gives the Federal Govt. power over external affairs- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Australia . However, this does not include of the govt. to lay charges on people for activities conducted overseas.
    In the Constitution Act, the Commonwelath is given the power to decide external affairsi in sn51 (xxx).
    The Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia(Quick and Garran) – https://archive.org/details/annotatedconstit00quicuoft -explains in s214, pp 631/32 ” External Affairs”, that “external affairs” only includes forbidding a State to establish its own embassy and things of a similar nature.
    Limits to the interpretation of Federal powers are further clarified in s33, p346 “And all Laws”: “{For Federal laws] to be valid and binding they must be mapped out and delimited in express terms, or by necessary implication, in the Constitution itself. What is not so granted to the Parliament of the Commonwealth is denied to itnted to the Parliament of the Commonwealth is denied to it.”
    A jumped-up minister deciding for him or her self? Not on!
    Extraterritorilal laws undermine the presumption of innocence by denying defendants the ability to do the sorts of things a defendant can do normally. They cannot travel to where they allegedly committed the alleged crime and gather evidence in their favour or character witnesses, nor easily have this done on their behalf, yet the government can traved anywhere it needs to in order to gather evidence against them.
    This makes the kind of laws Abort & Co. want to introduce a form of trial in absentia, since in ways that could be of practical significance, the defendant will not be present in order to defend themselves. However, one must bear in mind that there will be no trial at all under the propoed law, let alone one using a jury as required by sn 80 oif the Constitution Act.
    Extraterritorial travel restrictions also serve to deter people from finding out what is really going on in places where ouyr government might be doing some shady dealings.

  2. Dolly Dickerson said:

    Something bugs me about
    “A company contracted by the Australian Government, under scrutiny for its poor management of detention centres where women and children are abused.,,.”
    I’m not in favour of abusing anyone, but why are women put in with children as a group whose abuse is especially worthy of concern? To put it another way, why are men coinsidered less important and less innocent than women?

Comments are closed.

Top