Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dutton’s strange au pair case

More details have come to light about a controversial deportation case involving home affairs minister Peter Dutton. Guardian Australia reported on Monday that in 2015, a staffer for AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan asked Dutton’s office to approve a tourist visa for Alexandra Deuwel, a French woman who had previously worked as an au pair for a McLachlan relative and was due to be deported. In an authorisation for Deuwel’s new visa, issued less than 24 hours after she was detained, Dutton said “it would be in the public interest” to grant Deuwel a visa in the “interests of Australia as a humane and generous society”. The revelations came after a Tamil asylum seeker died in a Queensland hospital on Sunday. The unnamed 45-year-old man, who was brought to Australia in 2014 after two years in offshore detention on Nauru, attempted suicide last week after his asylum application was rejected.

A new database tracking every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander death in custody over the last decade has spurred calls for an overhaul of the justice and detention systems. Deaths Inside, a Guardian Australia initiative, lists the 147 known Indigenous deaths in custody between 2008 and 2018 and spotlights systemic failings in prisons, hospitals, police watch houses and alcohol detention holding facilities. Social justice commissioner June Oscar called the findings “devastating”, saying “our people are dying in custody under circumstances that often appear to be entirely preventable”. A total of 407 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the 1991 royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody released its findings, many of which have not been implemented.

The United Nations has concluded the governments of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates may have committed war crimes in Yemen’s ongoing civil war. In a report released on Tuesday, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights investigators found the Saudi-led coalition had carried out air strikes on “residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities”, and detailed evidence of the widespread “rape of men and women and sexual violence against displaced persons, migrants and other vulnerable groups”. The report also claimed coalition forces and Houthi rebels “conscripted or enlisted children” as young as eight. The coalition has launched more than 16,000 air raids since March 2015, nearly one-third of which hit civilian targets.

And the Victorian government will build a $50 billion rail line connecting Melbourne’s outer suburbs. In an announcement yesterday, the state government claimed the “underground suburban rail loop connecting Melbourne's existing train lines” would take 200,000 cars off roads and carry 400,000 passengers a day, eliminating the need to travel into the CBD to move across the city. The government estimated the project, involving the construction of 90 kilometres of track and tunnels, would be completed in 2050 if construction began in 2022.

Lifeline 13 11 14



“It is a history of children who entered orphanages but did not leave them alive. From former residents of America’s Catholic orphanage system, I had heard stories about these deaths – that they were not natural or even accidents, but were instead the inevitable consequence of the nuns’ brutality.”


“Over the years, eating pizza together in Beijing became a tradition, ritualising my emigrant family’s brief return to our home country with an offering of the perfect emblem of America: a universally beloved dish that illustrates the vast excess and choice and availability that together define American consumption. Pizza.”


“750 plush yellow mice were fixed to miniature parachutes and sent drifting into the bright, late-summer sky, airdropped from the belly of a plane as though by a foreign power with superior resources – which, strictly speaking, was more or less what was happening.”


“This was grief, but it was not just my career I was grieving. I was grieving my past self. It was the baby Yassmina I had lost, a resolutely positive and perhaps blindly optimistic young person, a soul unburdened by the knowledge of what the world does to people who don’t quite fit the mould and who want us all to be a little better. I had lost an innocence I didn’t even know I had.”


“If you don’t like what your leaders are doing or the way they behave, tell them. Ring them. Write to them. Email them ... You say you want an Australia that’s more likely to reflect your views? An Australia with stable, sensible government? You have the power to change that. Only you. Talk back.”


“In the 1960s, China finally built a luxury car of its own, the Hongqi. But the car was meant for Chairman Mao and other official duties in local governments, and as such, few are ever seen outside of China, or up close at all. But two rolled into the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year, the first Chinese cars in America’s most prestigious show. And they are fascinating.”