Friday, October 05, 2018

Government shuts Christmas Island centre

The federal government has shut the Christmas Island detention centre more than 10 years after it first opened. Hundreds of asylum seekers have been moved to detention centres on the mainland since June 30, with the final group of detainees leaving the island on Sunday. Immigration minister David Coleman told Fairfax the closure was “another example of the Coalition government cleaning up Labor’s mess”. Thousands of detainees passed through the centre since it opened in 2008, becoming a symbol of the offshore detention policy of successive Australian governments.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus has laid out the union movement’s demands ahead of the next federal election, including a return to industry-wide bargaining and the introduction of a living wage. Speaking to the John Curtin Research Centre on Thursday, McManus said “single enterprise bargaining has failed in so many industries because business owners are encouraged to undercut one another to compete on wage costs”. Industrial relations minister Kelly O’Dwyer seized on the speech, saying it was “a recipe for industrial conflict and chaos not seen since the 1970s”.

A funeral insurer criticised by the royal commission into the banking and finance sectors for targeting Aboriginal children gave out toys and showbags at an Indigenous rugby league tournament at the long weekend. The Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, which has no ties to Indigenous communities and has no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people on its board, was exposed targeting Aboriginal children for expensive funeral plans by recruiting “dark-skinned” door-to-door salespeople and incorporating the rainbow serpent into its marketing material. Financial Rights Legal Centre solicitor Mark Holden told the ABC he saw an ACBF stall at the Koori Knockout in Dubbo, where branded plush toys and miniature footballs were handed out to people who gave ACBF their contact details. A spokesperson for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it was investigating the incident.

And consumer advocacy group Choice has awarded the 2018 Shonky Awards for the most unreliable, dishonest and shoddy products in the Australian marketplace. Winners included the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Dollarmites school banking program for mixing “unchecked corporate power with primary schools”, timeshare programs run by hotel chain Marriott for being “938 per cent more expensive than similar accommodation sourced on an online booking site”, and the KitchenAid two-slice toaster for “miserably failing its only job”: to toast sliced bread. “Our seven 2018 winners follow a long tradition of highlighting why we need to hold companies to account for their bad behavior and why we need stronger laws to protect Australians,” Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland said.


“For years, he served simultaneously as the president of a Russian region and the steward of its national pastime. His authoritarian rule in those dual posts established him as a uniquely valuable Kremlin asset and has led his critics to bestow him with other, less flattering titles. Stooge. Spy. Madman. And perhaps worse.”


“In early 2017, the Philippine National Police arrested members of a vigilante gang suspected of preying on drug suspects and criminals in Tondo, Manila. The group was a local chapter of the Confederate Sentinels Group. More than a year after the arrests, most of the men implicated remain free. Rappler’s 6-month investigation shows strong indications that the police were outsourcing extrajudicial killings to the same vigilante gang they accused of murder.”


“It was 2009 and the Russian mob had Rob in their sights. The company he runs with his younger brother Jason was on the trail of a huge counterfeit operation, an investigation that would eventually lead to the downfall of a Russian ‘spam gang’, a sophisticated group of mobsters responsible for a slew of websites advertising fake watches, handbags and accessories, as well as a third of the world’s spam emails.”


“Indonesian authorities are struggling to counter fake news reports causing panic among residents of the island of Sulawesi in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit last week. False reports, including that another more severe earthquake was due to strike the region and that a dam was due to collapse, have added to the fear in Central Sulawesi, where the death toll from the earthquake and the resulting tsunami has reached 1,400 and is expected to rise further.”


“Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman is fighting a daily battle to update the world 24/7 on the latest developments in a deadly quake-tsunami, despite his own impending date with death from terminal cancer ... The 48-year-old refuses to pass the torch, dragging himself to daily press briefings, taking reporters’ calls and communicating on social media at a frantic pace, even as he ‘feels weaker every day’ from Stage IV lung cancer.”


“Olympic National Park, located in Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, is faced with a daunting challenge: removing a ballooning mountain goat population that's developed a strong appetite for human pee ... With humans flooding the area and routinely relieving themselves on various hiking trails, the goats have developed an insatiable thirst for urine, which serves as a strong source of salt and minerals.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.