Friday, August 31, 2018

Dutton stepped in on behalf of former police colleague

Revelations that home affairs minister Peter Dutton intervened on an au pair’s visa case with which he had a personal connection, have put further scrutiny on the minister’s discretionary powers. While further details came to light around his intervention in French woman Alexandra Deuwel’s visa case in South Australia, it has been revealed that Dutton also stepped in to prevent the deportation of an Italian au pair who was to work for the family of a former police colleague.  

Dutton ignored Australian Border Force advice when he intervened for Deuwel, calling her deportation a “bit rough” in an interview with Ray Hadley. In the same interview, before the Italian au pair story had broken, Mr Dutton said, “I made a judgement based on the merit of the case, not my knowledge of the person who had referred it.” Criticism has come over his treatment of these cases when he has ignored appeals for leniency on behalf of people fleeing persecution in their countries of birth. Despite a number of appeals to Dutton for the release of Biloela couple Priya and Nadez and their two Australian-born daughters from detention, including a petition with almost 120,000 signatures, the minister has not stepped in. An army veteran trying to obtain a visa for his friend and Afghan interpreter, whose life is now in danger, is also angry with Dutton’s decisions. “The Afghan interpreters that wore the Australian Army uniform in Afghanistan, assisting troops and facilitating our government’s mission in the war on terror, are actively being hunted by the Taliban,” Captain John Scanes told “Why are they not seen as a priority to process? Many have waited years to have their applications processed, only to be refused on the grounds of a character test. Many still have no answer.”

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a drier than average spring, which is expected to be followed by drier than average autumn and winter. Swathes of New South Wales are on track  for lowest recorded winter rainfall. This year has also been unusually warm, which means drought conditions could be exacerbated. Last summer was Australia’s second warmest in 108 years, and winter 2018 is tipped to be one of the five warmest on record. Low rainfall and high temperatures means some communities are facing water storage levels of as low at 10 per cent and an increased risks of bushfire.

The BBC is reporting on allegations that French actor Gérard Depardieu raped and assaulted a young actress. The report was filed with police on Monday by an unnamed, 22-year-old French actress, who claims the attack happened earlier this month at Depardieu’s Paris home. Her agent was quoted by French digital news service BFMTV as saying that she is “devastated”. Depardieu denies the accusations “absolutely”, his lawyer, Hervé Temime describing him as “shaken” and calling the allegations against “everything he is and respects”.

A new UN report says Myanmar’s military should be investigated for genocide and other crimes against humanity. Based on hundreds of interviews, the report details on violence against Rohingya Muslims and names six military leaders the UN believes should go on trial. It also criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the report saying she should resign for not preventing the violence. The UN human rights high commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, has also publicly condemned her actions. In an interview with the BBC, Hussein said: "She was in a position to do something. She could have stayed quiet - or even better, she could have resigned."


“In fact, it’s a miracle that it ever came to be at all. In addition to the people within Pfizer who were in an uproar over the ‘dick pill,’ four major groups began rallying against it before its launch: the Catholic church (which thought it was immoral), medical experts (who insisted patients would be too embarrassed to ask for the pill), business execs (who thought it would make Pfizer a laughingstock), and legislators (who lobbied against the pill for the same reason as the church).”


“The advice column ought to be a relic. It belongs to a time when local newspapers were a community’s main window on the world: before widespread therapy, and before Google was around to autocomplete our anxieties. Yet the advice column in the online era remains wildly popular, evolving in form and audience: from traditional Q&As to live chats and podcasts, there are now innumerable ways to share our dilemmas with the world or eavesdrop on other peoples’.”


“It may be no accident that Rodríguez’s case was, for half a century, rather less celebrated: he emerged from the mountains into a country scared to investigate itself for fear of what it might find. There was little appetite for reopening debates about poverty and neglect, or the sale of children into labour, even in the 1970s. It was not until much later, 35 years after Franco had died, in a democracy mature enough to confront its past, that the details and significance of his story were finally embraced.”


“An email chain was leaked on Thursday featuring the correspondence of immigration officials, Peter Dutton’s office, an AFL staffer, McLachlan and his second cousin. The emails run over 14 pages and indicate that Dutton overruled border security advice and allowed entry to Australia for the French woman, Alexandra Deuwel, on 1 November 2015.”


"Nearby Brooklyn resident Carmen Largaiolli said the community was fed up with decades of 'dodgy operators'...

'They are just a bunch of cowboys,' she said. 'It's cowboy country out there. This fire is a warning that something needs to be done about this entire precinct. Even now, where is the owner of this warehouse? We haven't heard a word from them when lives are being put at risk.'"


“When we tell the story of the mainstream Australian experience through music, the energy is masculine... think of all the tight, drunken circles of mates at the pub, all the screamed verses of 'Khe Sanh', all over the country, all through the years. Some of that surely becomes part of a country’s DNA, its identity. But what if the music that really unites our nation – that really speaks to who we are – is actually the country’s most popular female artist: Pink?”

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.